I love introducing people to painters I’ve discovered in my search for works that I can get excited about. So many of the artists I admire are off-the-radar; I’ve found their work in museums, (usually in the back somewhere) or perhaps they pop up in old exhibition catalogs. But it only takes one appealing image for me to start following an artist’s work, and I find it remarkable how much sustenance and communion I’ve found in this manner.
Frank Duveneck is a great example. An American trained in Germany, he started out with a reputation as an edgy, fresh talent, and collected a gang of admiring younger painters who followed him around Venice in a state of Bohemian worship. John Singer Sargent said of him, “After all’s said, Frank Duveneck is the greatest talent of the brush of this generation.” He would certainly know.
As with so many painters, I find his personal portraits of friends and other subjects, the work he did off the clock, to be the most compelling to modern eyes. His placement of shapes, characterization of his subjects, and daring paint qualities are wonderfully based on Dutch and Spanish influences, but very much his own, and never feel like shallow mannerisms.