Freer studied at the Munich Academy in Germany in the 1870s, and was a successful painter and teacher upon his return to the United States. After a period in New York, he returned to his native Chicago and became the Director of the School of the Art Institute. Freer was known for his portrayals of beautiful women, and he made many paintings of his wife Margaret, whom this model resembles, and their children. Freer was not known particularly for his watercolors, however he made a number of figure studies (perhaps to serve as studies for other paintings or illustrations) and landscapes.
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