Frank Duveneck (American, 1848–1919),
Portrait of an Old Actor
oil on canvas, 22 ¾ x 18 in.; 57.79 x 45.72 cm
Museum Purchase, 1938.20
One of the first Americans to train at Munich’s Academy of Fine Arts (which eventually rivaled the Parisian Academy for prestige), Duveneck emulated seventeenth-century Dutch masters and French Realists. He employed broad brushstrokes, thick pigments, and warm, dark colors in his technique, and concentrated on contemporary subject matter, specializing in portraits of working-class individuals. Duveneck’s particular brand of unflinching realism was hugely influential on his followers, who included John Twachtman and William Merritt Chase, as well as later generations of American artists. This portrait was most likely completed during one of Duveneck’s stays in Paris in the 1880s and 1890s.