Food For Your Soul
Frank Duveneck (1848-1919)
Born in Covington, Ky., to a working-class German family, by the age of 15, Frank Duveneck began to study art under the tutelage of a local painter, Johann Schmitt. He was apprenticed to a German firm of church decorators where he gained experience in painting, carving, and gilding while working on altars in religious buildings. His work can be seen in magnificent 19th century churches such as Mother of God in Covington.
In 1869, at age 21, the promising artist went abroad to study at the Royal Academy in Munich, Germany, where he learned a dark, realistic and direct style of painting. Soon becoming a celebrated artist, students flocked to him in Germany and also in Italy where he made long visits. His time there led him to adopt a lighter southern European touch. He opened a school in Munich and another in the Bavarian village of Polling, where his students became known as “Duveneck Boys.” Many young American artists, including William Merritt Chase and J. Frank Currier, studied under Duveneck, both in Munich and in Florence between 1878 and 1888.
In 1886, Duveneck married one of his students. The couple had one son, but his wife died of pneumonia just two years after their wedding. Duveneck was devastated. Returning to the United States in 1888, he settled in Covington where he continued to teach. He worked closely with the Art Academy of Cincinnati and taught there until his death in 1919. Four Sisters of Charity studied there under his tutelage: Sisters Ernestine Foskey, Olivia Lefevre, Appolonia Liguori, and Ann Xavier Magvney.
A recipient of many awards, the artist’s work is featured in the Cincinnati Wing at the Cincinnati Art Museum. It can also be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Smithsonian American Museum of Art.Among his most famous paintings is The Whistling Boy (1872) which reveals Duveneck’s debt to the dark palate and slashing brushwork of Frans Hals. Another of his paintings, A Child’s Portrait, hangs in the Art Room of the Sisters of Charity and is featured above.