Frederick Warren Freer
40 in. x 30 in. (101.6 cm x 76.2 cm)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. Margaret Freer
Frederick Freer’s reputation in the 1890s was based primarily on his work as a portrait painter, and particularly on depictions of beautiful women. "Nursery Rhymes" is believed to portray Freer’s wife, Margaret, and their daughter Catherine. Unlike Freer’s earlier works in the Munich style, this painting is constructed to accentuate the exquisite pale tonalities of skin and fabric; softened contours convey the affection, innocence, and gentleness of the mother-and-child relationship. The medium is applied with a light touch suggestive of pastel.
The painting remained in Freer’s possession, and then in his wife’s, perhaps because of the melancholy fact that Catherine died as a toddler. This work may have been one of only a few images to commemorate her brief life.
American Paintings from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 2006, cat. no. 28, p. 88.