One of America's foremost Impressionist painters, Frederick Frieseke is perhaps best known for his representations of women. His work is steeped in Impressionist ideals of color, light, and texture, a result of the artist's having lived in the artists' colony at Giverny for nearly two decades, alongside masters like Claude Monet.
The Breakfast Room is an archetypal example of Frieseke's large paintings of women in private environs. Just as often as he painted outdoor scenes of women in gardens and amongst throngs of flowers, he depicted them in intimate interior settings, lounging or sitting calmly. William H. Gerdts writes that the "monumentality of Freiseke's women, [and] his concern with feminine intimacy" align him with both the master figure painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Post-Impressionist Pierre Bonnard. (American Impressionism: Masterworks from Public and Private Collections in the United States, Switzerland, 1990, p. 22)
The painting exemplifies Frieseke's ability to balance a composition to create an overall harmony. The verticals and horizontals of the tablecloth, the table's legs, the molding on the door and walls, and the sitter's arms anchor the work structurally, while curvilinear accents like the table, the pitcher, the chair's back, and the oval frame in the upper right give visual contrast. In this work, one can quickly identify Frieseke's adherence to the academic "principles of reduction of visual detail for the purpose of clarifying and unifying the expressive whole." (B.L. Summerford, A Retrospective Exhibition, San Francisco, 1982, p. 17)
Despite the influence of painters like Monet and Renoir, Frieseke's art at times is "divorced from the reality of both orthodox French Impressionism and the version of it adapted by earlier American practitioners such as [Theodore] Robinson, Frieseke's use of flat, interlocking patterns to achieve two-dimensional effects allies his art to French Post-Impressionism." (William H. Gerdts, Monet's Giverny: An Impressionist Colony, New York, 1993, p.174)
His vibrant color planes, repeated structural forms, and other varied artistic devices come together in this work to create a highly successful, complete, composed, and balanced composition, as well as an important example of Frieseke's brand of American Impressionism.
This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Frieseke's work being compiled by Nicholas Kilmer, the artist's grandson, and sponsored by Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York.