When asked his artistic goals, Frederick Frieseke declared, “it is sunshine, flowers in sunshine; girls in sunshine; the nude in sunshine.” The emphasis upon light marks Frieseke as a disciple of the impressionists. However, in contrast to the impressionists, he focused his attention not on landscape but on the female figure and the private lives of women. Frieseke’s women were women as a worldly man might dream them, sensual and ornamental, engaged in polite, domestic, “feminine” pursuits: dressing (or undressing), arranging flowers, lounging on a divan, or, as here, taking tea in the garden.
The Garden Parasol evokes the serene pleasure of a summer in the French countryside. The setting is the garden of the Friesekes’ house at Giverny, close to the home and gardens of the venerable impressionist painter Claude Monet. The seated woman is the artist’s wife, Sadie, and the garden was her special creation. Frieseke depicts her as a cultivated woman of leisure whose reading is interrupted by the arrival of a visitor-or visitors, for it is our approach that distracts Sadie from her book and prompts her to fix us with a questioning stare. Whatever small drama might arise from so genteel an encounter is fully upstaged by the vibrancy of the garden, and especially by the Japanese parasol that spices the scene with swirling colors.
tags: weather, fashion, seasons, color
Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina, 1973, and dedicated in memory of Moussa M. Domit, Director of the North Carolina Museum of Art (1974-1980), by the NCMA Board of Trustees, 2008