Style: Impressionist, Realist
Background: Frank Weston Benson, frequently referred to as Frank W. Benson,was born on March 24, 1862 in Salem , Massachusetts. He was an American artist known for his Realistic portraits, Impressionist paintings, watercolors and etchings.
Education: In 1880, Benson began to study at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston under Otto Grundmann. On Benson’s 21st birthday his parents gave him a gift of $2,000 to study in Europe. He traveled to Paris and studied at the Academie Julien from 1883 to 1884 with Edmund Tarbell and Joseph London Smith. After his study at Académie Julien, Benson traveled to England’s Royal Academy to see his painting “After the Storm” on exhibit.
Achievements: Benson opened his first studio in Salem in 1886 with his friend, Phillip Little, and began painting portraits, an occupation in which Benson took seriously. He once said: “The more a painter knows about his subject, the more he studies and understands it, the more the true nature of it is perceived by whoever looks at it, even though it is extremely subtle and not easy to see or understand. A painter must search deeply into the aspects of a subject, must know and understand it thoroughly before he can represent it well.”
Continuing a pattern that the Bensons would follow for years, the family left Boston during the summers. The family spent summers in New Castle, New Hampshire where Benson made some of his first Impressionist paintings, such as Children in the Woods and The Sisters. The popularity of The Sisters, a painting of daughters Elizabeth and Sylvia, won medals in expositions throughout the United States and in Paris, was a prelude to the successes of the next 20 years, when Benson became famous for a series of paintings of his family.A
Like the French Impressionists, Benson focused on capturing light. To his daughter Eleanor he said, “I follow the light, where it comes from, where it goes.” A critic said of Benson’s work: “It is impossible to believe that mere paint, however clearly laid on, can glow and shimmer and sparkle as does that golden light on his canvas.”