According to historical documentation, Franklin Harrison Miller was born in 1843 to Southard Harrison Miller and Esther Peckham Miller of Fall River, Massachusetts. Southard H. Miller was a prominent builder and contractor. In 1845, S. H. Miller built the Trafton house in Fall River that eventually became the family home of Lizzie Borden.
Franklin H. Miller, listed in records as a professional artist, pursued his early studies in Boston and Paris. The artist also studied with the acclaimed painter, Robert Spear Dunning (1829-1905). Dunning was a co-founder of the Fall River School of painting. In 1870, Dunning established the Fall River Evening Drawing School. Well-known members of the Fall River School included Abbie Zuill, Bryant Chapin, Albert E. Munroe, Franklin H. Miller, Mary Lizzie Macomber, and Herbert Cash. One of the main focuses of the Fall River School of artists was on highly realistic or “trompe l'oeil” still life painting.
The influence of R. S. Dunning on Miller’s body of work is clearly evident. An accomplished artist, Miller’s still life paintings of fruit bear a striking resemblance to those of his mentor. Much of his art depicted the typical natura morta subjects of the Victorian period (e.g., fruit, flowers, game, etc.).
F. H. Miller passed away on March 18, 1911. A portrait of Franklin H. Miller, painted by Dunning in 1879, currently hangs in the Fall River Historical Society.
Information courtesy of Tina Kasper