Frederick Warren Freer
Mother Playing with Baby
12 1/8 in. x 16 1/4 in. (30.8 cm x 41.28 cm)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. Margaret Freer
After his return from art study in Europe, Frederick Freer settled in New York in 1880. In 1886, he married a fellow painter, Margaret Cecilia Keenan. Eventually the Freers had seven children, and his family became Freer's primary subject. Almost certainly, this painting depicts Margaret Freer as a young mother with one of her infant children.
Although he had trained at the Munich Academy where he learned a style more heavily influenced by the Old Masters, this painting reflects Freer's knowledge of the more contemporary style of Impressionism. Freer had traveled to Paris with William Merritt Chase in 1883, and the work of both artists suggests that the techniques and subjects of the French Impressionists inspired them. Here Freer has captured the soft glow of the diffused light from the window as it illuminates and enriches the colors and textures of the sitters' skin and clothing, as well as the lurxious fabrics of the upholstry and drapery. Using short strokes of paint to build up and model the form in the work, the artist creates a gentle domestic scene that focuses on maternal love and warmth.