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Image of Nursery Rhymes

Frederick Warren Freer
American, 1849–1908

Nursery Rhymes

about 1896

Object Type: Painting
Dimensions:
40 in. x 30 in. (101.6 cm x 76.2 cm)
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Accession Number: 1936.0043

Credit Line: 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.

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