Frederick Carl Frieseke (American, 1874-1939) Two Ladies in a Garden 32 x 32in
Lot 2044
Frederick Carl Frieseke
(American, 1874-1939)
Two Ladies in a Garden 32 x 32in
Sold for US$ 880,000 inc. premium

American Paintings

22 May 2007, 13:00 EDT

New York

Lot Details
Frederick Carl Frieseke (American, 1874-1939) Two Ladies in a Garden 32 x 32in Frederick Carl Frieseke (American, 1874-1939) Two Ladies in a Garden 32 x 32in Frederick Carl Frieseke (American, 1874-1939) Two Ladies in a Garden 32 x 32in
Frederick Carl Frieseke (American, 1874-1939)
Two Ladies in a Garden
signed 'F.C.Frieseke' (lower right)
oil on canvas
32 x 32in


  • Provenance
    American Art Association, Anderson Galleries, New York, NY, sale Feb. 4, 1932, no. 80, illustrated in catalogue, p. 41 (as In the Garden)
    Anderson Galleries, New York, NY, sale Feb. 16, 1939, no. 26, ill. in cat. p. 8 (as A Summer Day)
    Private Collection, Santa Cruz

    In January, 1912, the Macbeth Gallery in New York, at that time pre-eminent in the representation of significant living American artists, presented Frieseke’s first individual exhibition in New York. The exhibition would travel to the Worcester, Massachusetts, Art Museum, and, given Macbeth’s continued interest, was to initiate for the painter a series of successes in the United States that would last throughout his career.
    An article reviewing the 1912 Macbeth exhibition quotes extensively from the artist, who was in the United States at the time of the exhibition. The author, who is clearly knowledgeable of Frieseke’s earlier work as well, comments on his adoption of a manner that we now commonly refer to as “impressionism.”

    His painting in oils shows a gradual evolution from his first work to his present style, characterized first by vivid color. He considers his problem at present to be “light and color and sunshine,” and is most pleased when he is portraying out-of-doors. His landscape, however, is always accessory to the picture, not its sole interest.

    All the paintings in the exhibition displayed the main tenets of his art principles, namely, that “painting is not theoretical, but a matter of enthusiasm.” He makes no previous sketches for his work, but takes the inspiration for his picture straight to his canvas, and apprehending nature as a system of green and blue, not of brown, he demonstrates a fearless use of colors, fresh and pure, and avoids mixing white in everything. “Most artists,” he says, “are afraid of green,” and to prove his emancipation he uses all his colors with utter fearlessness and boldness, and by this madness has won his way to eminence. Drawing he considers the A B C of painting. His detail is sufficient and comprehensive, but it does not take his first attention, for, “if you have a human being
    on your canvas,” he says, “your interest is there, and not on a dish or a material.”

    The article is notable in conveying both the artist’s personal modesty, and the technical bravado that, although it is embedded boldly in his work, he appears almost to discount with the term “enthusiasm.” Particularly important is the painter’s testament that, “if you have a human being on your canvas, your interest is there.” Given the context of the statement, we are permitted to infer with him that our own eyes, given their expected initial focus on our fellow humans, are expected to contribute orienting details as they might be needed in order to insure our equilibrium with the two women’s surroundings.

    In the Garden is perhaps as eloquent an accompaniment to the above quoted remarks as could be offered. The color is direct and brilliant, the drawing sure, and the landscape rendered with sufficient detail that we can feel some confidence in identifying roses and digitalis among the blossoms. We do not know the history of this painting prior to its first documented appearance in the 1932 auction sale at the Anderson Galleries. As early as 1908, Frieseke, working in Giverny, had begun a series of garden paintings in which two female figures appeared together. The interaction between these figures is varied, and culminates, perhaps, in such large formal paintings of 1914 as the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Summer, or the Art Institute of Chicago’s On the Bank, in which one of the two figures is nude and another clothed, suggesting a posed (or staged) event that is more defined by the exigencies of the painter’s craft, than by the likelihood that the painter (and therefore viewer) are happening upon a transient moment in the back yard.

    In many of these two-figure paintings (unless the subject involves the nude) one of the figures represented is that of the artist’s wife Sadie, who may be accompanied by her sister Janet Gély, or, more frequently, by her niece Aileen O’Bryan. It is reasonable to imagine that this latter pair is being represented in In the Garden, with Sadie, seated, assuring the set of her bonnet against bright sunlight, and against a wind that moves the shadows at the same speed as it moves the vegetation that determines their shapes falling into the garden.

    “If you have a human being on your canvas, your interest is there,” the painter observed—speaking, we presume, both of the painter’s interest and of the viewer’s. This must be especially true if one of the sitters is the painter’s wife. Nonetheless, we have in this painting an example of a remarkable balance in composition between the paired figures poised between conversation with each other and with the artist; and the all-encompassing “enthusiasm” which has led the painter toward what the critic, in 1912 New York, perceived as the act of “fearless” witness embodied in this painting.

    Nicholas Kilmer
    - - - - -
    This painting will be included [as In the Garden (Anderson)] in the Frederick C. Frieseke Catalogue Raisonné being prepared by Nicholas Kilmer, the artist’s grandson, with the sponsorship of the Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note the frame that this painting was exhibited with is not being sold with the painting.
Auction information

This sale is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future sales, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this sale, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations


If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Arms & Armour, Coins & Medals, Motor Cars, Motorcycles, and Wine & Whisky:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first $250,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from $250,001 to $4,000,000 of the Hammer Price
12.5% on the excess over $4,000,001 of the Hammer Price

Payment Notices

Payment for purchases may be made in or by (a) cash, (b) cashier's check or money order, (c) personal check with approved credit drawn on a U.S. bank, (d) wire transfer or other immediate bank transfer, or (e) Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit, charge or debit card. A processing fee will be assessed on any returned checks. Please note that the amount of cash notes and cash equivalents that can be accepted from a given purchaser may be limited.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Similar Items