Frederic Carl Frieseke was among the handful of American painters who established themselves in Giverny at the turn of the century, settling himself in the small French village in 1900. Of the Americans who established themselves in Giverny, Frieseke lived and worked in the town the longest, remaining for nearly two decades. While abroad, Frieseke fully embraced Impressionist painting.
Executed around 1904, The Pink Kimono is a wonderful example of Frieseke's early style, representing his ambitious and inspired forays into Impressionism. It was during the years between about 1904 and 1919 that Frieseke painted some of his most remarkable canvases. As B.L. Summerford wrote in an essay on the artist, "there is a thrilling quality to the early paintings. They have the vitality of youth, the feeling that anything is possible...In many ways they are among his finest and freest conceptions, direct, forceful, confident and economical." (A Retrospective Exhibition of the Works of F.C. Frieseke, San Francisco, California, 1982, p. 17)
The Pink Kimono demonstrates Frieseke's already superb treatment of subtle, diffuse Impressionist light, as well as his skillful incorporation of quick, impressionistic brushstrokes. In The Pink Kimono, the figure's robe, the wall coverings and the Japanese screen all provide the artist with opportunities to add pattern to the composition. William H. Gerdts has noted that "it was Frieseke who introduced into the repertory of Giverny painting the concern for rich, decorative patterns, related to the art of Edouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, and the other Nabi painters. There are patterns of furniture, patterns of parasols, patterns of fabric and wall coverings, patterns of light and shade, and patterns of flowers, all played off one another in bright sunshine...." (Monet's Giverny: An Impressionist Colony, New York, 1993, p. 172) All of Frieseke's artistic devices come together in this work to form a highly successful, complete, composed and balanced composition.
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.