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Yellow Tulips

Yellow Tulips
signed 'F.C. Frieseke.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
32 x 32 in. (81.3 x 81.3 cm.)
Painted circa 1911-1912
Private collection, New York; sale, Christie's, New York, 2 December 1998, lot 30.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owners.
Emporium, November 1913, vol. 38, no. 277, p. 337 (illustrated).
P. Trenton and W.H. Gerdts, California Light 1900-1930, exh. cat., Laguna Beach, 1990, pp. 42, 44 and 188 (illustrated, pl. 37; titled Reflections).
M.A. Erhardt and E. Broun, The Norma Lee and Martin Funger Art Collection, Lunenberg, 1999, pp. 28-29 (illustrated).
Detroit Museum of Art; Milwaukee Art Institute; Minneapolis Institute of Art; Buffalo, Albright Art Gallery; Pittsburgh, The Carnegie Institute of Arts and Rochester, The Memorial Art Gallery, Paintings by Frederick Carl Frieseke, James R. Hopkins, Gardner Symons, October 1917-June 1918.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 116th Annual Exhibition, February-March 1921, p. 61, no. 430.
Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Sixteenth Annual Exhibition of Selected Paintings by American Artists and a Group of Small Selected Bronzes by American Sculptors, April-June 1922, p. 13, no. 44.
Further Details
This work is included in the draft Frieseke catalogue raisonné, compiled by Nicholas Kilmer, the artist's grandson, with the support of the Hollis Taggart Galleries. That draft is now in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Art.

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Lot Essay

Impressive in scale, color and form, Yellow Tulips is an archetypal example of Frieseke’s paintings of women during quiet moments of leisure. Balancing sumptuous tones with opulent, intricate patterns and an intriguing viewpoint, the present work is a noteworthy interior scene from this period.
Frieseke first studied at The Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students League in New York before leaving for Paris in 1898. There Frieseke enrolled at the Académie Julian and the Académie Carmen, James McNeill Whistler’s short-lived school. Whistler's passion for Japanese art, decoration and distinctive color arrangements had a lasting influence on Frieseke's work, as evidenced in the present work. By 1900 he was spending summers in Giverny and, after achieving artistic and financial success by 1906, was able to purchase a home with his wife Sadie. They chose American Impressionist Theodore Robinson’s former house next door to Claude Monet’s. Frieseke remained in Giverny for almost two decades, where the artist colony also included Americans Theodore Butler, Willard Metcalf, Richard Miller and Guy Rose.
In Yellow Tulips, Frieseke uses his energetic, impressionistic style when ingeniously painting the portrait, likely of his wife, as a reflection in a mirror. He shares an intimate moment, as she admires her elaborate shawl. The work lyrically illustrates Frieseke’s ongoing fascination with capturing sunlight, especially when it comes to the natural world. Here, flowers are rendered before us on the mantle, reflected in the mirror in the middle distance on the table and in the far distance beyond his sitter. Frieseke summarized this particular interest in 1914, saying: “My one idea is to reproduce flowers in sunlight…One should never forget that seeing and producing an effect of nature is not a matter of intellect but of feeling…The effect of impressionism in general has been to open the eyes of the public to see not only sun and light, but the realization that there are new truths in nature” (C.T. MacChesney, “Frieseke Tells Some of the Secrets of His Art” in The New York Times, 7 June 1914).
Further, Frieseke revels in color and pattern. A diverse palette of greens, blues, yellows, pinks and purples are characteristic colors of many of Frieseke’s most accomplished interiors. Indeed, the intricately decorated shawl and wall at right make for a wondrous fusion of patterns and texture, which has striking parallels to the work of the Nabis, especially Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard.
Like these artists, Frieseke's images of women in interiors are celebrated as some of his finest achievements. Further, his ability to manipulate light and imbue his models with an air of psychological independence makes him one of the most accomplished American Impressionist painters of the female figure. With its engaging perspective, rich textures and beautiful tonal harmonies, Yellow Tulips represents Frieseke at the height of his abilities.

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