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This artwork, Age & Innocence by Pierre Edouard Frère, is currently for sale at Haynes Fine Art of Broadway.
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Pierre Edouard Frère, Age & Innocence
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TITLE:  Age & Innocence
ARTIST:  Pierre Edouard Frère (French, 1819–1886)
CATEGORY:  Paintings
MATERIALS:  Oil on panel
MARKINGS:  Signed and dated 1874
SIZE:  Panel size: 18 x 14 3/4 inches
Framed size: 24 x 21 inches
PRICE*:  20,000-30,000 GBP  (Convert prices to your currency with our Currency Converter)
GALLERY:  Haynes Fine Art of Broadway  +44 (0)13 8685 2649  Send Email

Pierre-Édouard Frère was a Realist painter who became the leader of the “sympathetic art” movement in France, a vein of Realism which sensitively portrayed the lower classes with dignity and charm, glorifying the simplicity of their lives and their work. Frère became especially known for his sympathetic portraits of women, and especially young children, completing daily household chores and other domestic activities.

Pierre-Édouard Frère was born on January 10, 1819 in Paris. In 1836 Édouard entered the École des Beaux-Arts, at just seventeen, and began studying under the well-established academic painter Paul Delaroche. Before beginning his career at the Salon Frère had already executed a number of works and established a modest career for himself, but for those artists seeking widespread acclaim, the main outlet was the Parisian Salons.

Frère debuted at the Salon of 1842 with Mendiants de Dunkerque (Beggars of Dunkerque) and Le Petit Paresseux (The Lazy Young Boy). The following year he exhibited Le Petit Gourmand (The Little Glutton), before putting his Salon career on a five-year hiatus, only to emerge again at the Revolutionary Salon of 1848. Between 1844 and 1863 he executed several small drawings for texts such as Veillées Littéraires Illustrées by P. Bry (1848), and later illustrated Les Trois Mousquetaires by Alexandre Dumas, Les Contes de Noël by Charles Dickens, and Le Fils du Diable by Paul Féval, among many others.

While many of the Realists thrived on the vibrant life in Paris, Frère grew weary of it, and in roughly 1847 moved his family to Écouen, a small village about eight miles from Paris, remaining there the rest of his life.

Frère became a well-known figure in this small village, bringing the children into his studio to use them as his models, often several at a time. Instead of staying in Paris, like his contemporaries, he travelled “…about the by-ways of France, dressed in farmer’s gray, chatting in barn-yards and hay-fields with peasants, getting into their good graces, and delighting them with his bonhomie and his pretty pictures.” In immersing himself in the people whom he was depicting, his art was given this unique and appealing sense of the truthfulness.

From Écouen, he continued to exhibit at the Parisian Salons. In 1850/51, dubbed the Realist Salon because of the large amount of Realist works included, he was given his first medal, a third-class medal, for his Intérieur, étude (Interior, study), La Lecture (The Lecture), and Le Fumeur (The Smoker), among other works. At the following Salon he was given further recompense, earning a second-class medal. After his showing at the Exposition Universelle of 1855, where he received a third-class medal, he was named Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.

Soon many of his works were made into reproductions and his images disseminated to the masses. From 1868 to 1885 Frère regularly exhibited his work annually at the Royal Academy, further solidifying the English’s desire to procure his work.

Besides England, Frère’s works were also very popular with American audiences. An article written in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in November 1871 described, in thirteen pages, the art of Édouard Frère and “sympathetic art” in France. During the following two decades Frère continued to be a major contributor to the annual Salons, exhibiting the same theme in each Salon.

Frère partook in one final Salon in 1886, exhibiting, Scène d’Intérieur (Interior Scene) and Le Frère Ainé (The Oldest Brother). He died in Écouen on May 20th, 1886. His family name and artistic career were sustained by his only child, Charles-Édouard Frère, a genre painter and portraitist. The author of the Harper’s Monthly article must have also fallen under the spell of Frère, since he wrote “In a word, there can be no true art where the poor have not happy homes,” and in effect summing up the issues surrounding Frère and the production of his art.

PROVENANCE:  Ex Maconnal Mason, private collection Devon
ONLINE CATALOGUE(S):  Children and Beauties
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