Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Fredric Whitaker" .. A smidgen of Art History.....

        I met Kristine at a bus stop, we were both seeing our young children off to school. After a few weeks of our daily meetings and chats, she one day offered me coffee at her home. We had  discovered during our daily meetings that we had much in common,and  similar tastes, so I was not surprised to discover that her home was decorated very much like mine. Antiques, Vintage fabrics, and lots of artwork.
        While she made coffee I browsed the artwork in her sitting room... I was stunned to see four beautiful original water colours on the wall,  all signed by Frederick Whitaker. They took my breath away. When I asked her, if she understood the value of the paintings , she calmly said "Oh yes.. they are lovely aren't they."

Whitaker Watercolor
I told her is one rushed breath everything I knew about Frederick Whitaker.

Frederic Whitaker, N.A. (1891-1980) Born: Providence, RI 

Frederic Whitaker grew up on the East Coast. In the 1920s and 1930s,He left school at 14 and by the time he was 16,  became an apprentice to the Designer at W.J.Feely Co, a manufacturer of Metal ecclesiastical metal ware. By age 23 he had become the head designer. He went on to become  a successful silversmith having worked for several well-known companies including Tiffany. 

 In the 1940s, he began exhibiting watercolors. By the late 1950s, he was a nationally recognized watercolorist and a member of over thirty art organizations. He served as president of the American Watercolor Society, vice president of the National Academy of Design, and was "Mr. Watercolor". Whitaker wrote two books on watercolor painting, wrote eighty-five articles on art for magazines, and also contributed sections on watercolor painting to nine publications. 

Fredric Whitaker was best know for his Architectural renderings,though he included a full range of representational themes from human figures to Whimsical Dolls and imaginary beings in his work.
On valentines Day ,1943 He met Eileen Monaghan, at a one man exhibit of his work, at Ferargil Galleries in New York City. She would become Eileen Monaghan Whitaker, and remain so until Fredrics death in 1980. 
Whitaker Watercolor 

in 1949 Fredric retired from business to devote himself to painting writing, and in a variety of leadership roles within the Art Organizations he was involved with. He and Eileen moved to California in 1969, and continued to develop and create.
His vision of Art was poetic and romantic, to realize his vision, particularly in a temperamental medium like water color, Whitaker had to be absolutely clear as to his objectives, and in total control every step of the way, until completion. That he succeeded, is evident in the hundreds of beautiful paintings he produced in his career. Every piece of work leaving his studio would be Structurally sound, and technically accomplished, His very clear assertion of how seriously the medium deserved to be taken. 

He was firmly insistent that Art should not depend on gimmickry or "fashion" That Moderism, with all it's Ism's did nothing to impress him, especially when you had to "explain it"... Hence his quote....." Art that Cannot explain itself.... is best left undone.

Frederic Whitaker continued to paint until his death in 1980, he left behind a large extended family and an incredible contribution to Art.

Water color Sketch 
As it turns out Fredric Whitaker was Kristine's Grandfather, and the four originals had been left to her at his passing. Kris and I have been friends from that first meeting at the bus stop, and though we live in different parts of the world, we see each other ever few years. Several years ago she gave me a gift, A simple water color sketch. something she found among some family things and thought only I would appreciate. I cherish it.because she understands what it means to me, and I understand what it means to her.

For much more on the life  and art of Frederic Whitaker , please visit the Whitaker Foundation 

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