Portrait of a Young Woman - Duveneck, Frank

Portrait of a Young Woman


Frank Duveneck was born in Kentucky, the son of German immigrants.  After his employment with decorator Wilhelm Lamprecht in Cincinnati, Duveneck went to Munich to study church decoration.  He instead became interested in easel painting and enrolled in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.  He proved to be a quick student, earning many subsequent awards for his vigorously painted figures and scenes, that reveal an interest in Dutch and Flemish Old Master paintings.  After a brief return to Cincinnati and an exhibition of his works from Germany, Duveneck returned to Munich, setting up a studio and taking on students of his own.  His student collective became known as “The Duveneck Boys,” and their activities were referred to in William Dean Howells’ 1886 novel Indian Summer.  The artist took his group to study in Florence and Venice and wound up remaining for two years.  He eventually returned to teach in Cincinnati, Chicago and New York.  One of his many students, Charles Meurer (1865-1955) is represented here in this exhibition.

Duveneck’s Portrait of a Young Woman of 1884 comes from a period in the artist’s life in which he may have been courting the woman he married in 1886:  Elizabeth Boott.  There is little likeness between this portrait subject and ‘Lizzie,’ as she was known.  This woman may be a model that Duveneck painted from more than once:  other images from this time frame include a full-lipped, dark-haired woman.  The very dark coloration of this painting harkens to Duveneck’s artistic exposure and work in Munich – not unlike William Merritt Chase’s dark Still Life, also influenced by his study in the same city.