Afternoon - Yellow Room

Frederick Carl Frieseke (American, 1874-1939)

Currently on View in K208
Image Licensing

The colorful patterns and glowing sunshine here are signature elements of Frieseke’s work. He painted his wife in this same room under various light effects that he used to heighten the sparkle of the patterning around her.

Look closely at the painting and you will see a ghostly image above the hand on the woman’s lap. This is called a pentimento, meaning “repentance” in Italian. These occur when the paint becomes more transparent with age and reveals changes made by the artist. To find out what was hidden, an infrared reflectogram (IRR) image of the painting was taken (shown below). The IRR shows that the woman was originally holding an open book. The artist painted it out and shifted the position of the woman’s hand.

Frederick Carl Frieseke and American Impressionism

Frieseke was born in Michigan, yet he spent most of his time in France. He studied in more conservative Parisian academies before turning to the progressive Impressionist idiom. Frieseke was the leader of the Giverny Group, which included American Impressionists, who lived in close proximity to Claude Monet. His garden villa at Giverny is the setting for most of his works depicting women at leisure, either seated in gardens or in sun rooms. According to Frieseke’s own statement, he painted directly on the canvas without the aid of preliminary sketches.

Afternoon – Yellow Room is one of two versions of the same subject painted at Giverny in 1910. Like his fellow Impressionists, Frieseke paid attention to the varying effects of light. He distinguished this scene of afternoon light from its morning counterpart in the Cincinnati Art Museum. The colorful patterns of the chair and curtain and the light-infused environment are signature elements of Frieseke’s work.

Kilmer, Nicholas, David Sellin, Barbara H. Weinberg, and Virginia M. Mecklenberg. Frederick Carl Frieseke: The Evolution of an American Impressionist. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.

(R. C. and N. M. Vose, Boston, Massachusetts); Mrs. John N. Carey; purchased by the John Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis, Indiana, now the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, in 1929 (29.71).

Object Information

Frederick Carl Frieseke (American, 1874-1939)
creation date
oil on canvas
32 x 32 in.
36-1/2 x 37 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
James E. Roberts Fund
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

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