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Image of Self-Portrait

Frederick Warren Freer
American, 1849–1908



Object Type: Painting
Creation Place: North America, American, Illinois
45 in. x 30 1/8 in. (114.3 cm x 76.52 cm)
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Accession Number: 1936.0046

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Margaret Freer

Frederick Warren Freer painted this self-portrait only five years before his untimely death at the age of 59. His extant works, together with contemporary published accounts, demonstrate that he was an accomplished artist who was part of the mainstream of American art at the turn of the twentieth century. This intriguing visual record of a man who was repeatedly described as a “distinguished painter” conveys something of his spirit as well as his appearance.

The dark tonality, with its emphasis on loose, gestural application of the oil medium, points to Freer’s Munich training. Dramatic lighting from the left emphasizes the figure’s solidity, as does the vigorous, painterly modeling of the hands and face. The work presents the artist’s vision of himself as a genial, urbane man of arts and letters whose demeanor is given a studied, casual air by the cigarette he holds in his hand.

American Paintings from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 2006, cat. no. 29

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