Encouraged by a friend, American Impressionist painter Frederick Carl Gottwald began his formal studies at the age of fifteen. He entered the Cleveland Art Academy, and the following year took classes at the Art Club of Cleveland. He then moved on to New York, where he enrolled at the Art Students League during 1881, where he studied under William Merritt Chase. He then went to Munich for three years of study.
Upon his return in 1885 he was appointed as an instructor at the Cleveland School of Art; a position he would keep until 1926. He began to exhibit in 1892, at the National Academy of Design in New York, but preferred to focus on Cleveland for his professional shows. He would also show in Boston, Chicago and New York for the rest of his career, with Cleveland usually the priority.
Like so many artists of his day, he spent his summers on long painting excursions to foreign countries or distant locales. Gottwald loved to travel to Holland, and is credited with starting "Dutch mania" by bringing back dozens of props and costumes for his students to use in their works.
In 1893 he helped to found the Brush and Palette Club and would exhibit with them through 1905, additionally he was an active member of the Cleveland Society of Artists throughout his career.
When he retired from teaching in 1926 he relocated to Pasadena, California where he continued to paint landscapes and genre scenes in the Impressionist style.