The third generation of American artists who relocated to the Giverny area of France are often referred to as the "Giverny Luminists" for their ability to use Impressionistic light in their subjects and settings. Within this group, the dominant artist was Frederick Carl Frieseke. Giverny became a popular artist colony due to the presence of Claude Monet who had worked and settled in the village during the 1880s, and many came to enjoy the lush garden environments and the beautiful light.
Frieseke became the leading American Impressionist in general, but particularly so during his years at Giverny. His work often focuses on a single female figure, usually nude, in an outdoor setting full of light and shadow. He relied on his wife to serve as a model, and the pair would often shop together for the parasols that the painter frequently asked the subject to hold.
Born in Michigan in 1874, he started his art career as an illustrator, then decided to advance his studies and enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago, then moved to New York for a year at the Art Students League.
His next move was to France, from where he would not return to the United States, and where he was known to study under several painters including Laurens and Whistler. It was Whistler's influence the Frieseke often credited with the most effect on his work. In 1901 he had officially settled in Paris and by 1904 had found one of his first successes - a sale to the French Government.
Within two years of that sale however, Frieseke would relocate again, this time to Giverny, where it is believed he had briefly visited in the few previous years. His fellow Americans in the small town included Guy Rose and Edmund Greacen among others. The couple maintained their Paris apartment and studio, but the majority of the year was passed at Giverny.
It was here that he was able to begin to create the luminous interiors and outdoor scenes that effectively conveyed the beautiful seasonal light.
By 1920 he was moving again, to the Normandy town of Le Mesnil-sur-Blangy where he began more experimentation with his palette, using less brilliant colors for the same subjects, and continuing to focus on the female form.
Frieseke was experimental with his methods throughout his life, permitting the natural atmosphere to influence his work. He won dozens of honors and awards, and was one of the few American artists elected to full membership in the Society National des Beaux Arts in Paris. His works are on display and in the collections of many museums and galleries throughout the world.