Artist Biography

Frank Myers Boggs

(1855 - 1926)

Table of Contents

    By Amy Carvel

    I. Biography

    Mixing tonalist and impressionist elements, Frank Myers Boggs forged a novel artistic style at the juncture of fin-de-siècle American and European traditions. Born in Ohio, Boggs trained at the École des Beaux-Arts under Jean Léon Gerôme and spent the majority of his life in Paris. There, he accomplished the rare feat of gaining prominence in both the French and American art worlds. By the end of his life, Boggs had essentially transformed himself into a French impressionist: he became a French citizen in 1923 and earned the French Legion of Honor three years later.

    Over the course of his career, Boggs painted harbor views of Holland, England, and France in addition to his celebrated Parisian street scenes. His works demonstrate an acute sensitivity to atmosphere and light and a tendency toward damp surfaces—rain-flecked streets and foggy skies—that allow a greater range of reflective effects. This interest in delicate, fleeting impressions aligned Boggs with the leading impressionists of the day, including Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, and Eugène Boudin, with whom he associated in Paris. Yet his subtle, tonal palette and consideration of volumetric form distinguish his work from impressionist convention.

    Several authors have suggested that Boggs’s sober palette derives from the influence of Johan Barthold Jongkind, a Dutch painter whose work served as a significant precursor to Impressionism. Like Boggs, Jongkind spent most of his life in Paris, where he influenced a young Monet. Boggs’s work is the link in the chain of influence running from Jongkind to Monet to the United States. His paintings exemplify the complex circuit of cultural interplay that affected American art at the turn of the century, when droves of American artists studied in Paris and cosmopolitan collectors acquired a growing taste for contemporary French art and its American interpretation.

    Boggs won a prize from the American Art Association in 1884 and silver medals from the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889 and the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. His paintings are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as well as the Réunion des Musées Nationaux of Paris, Luxembourg Museum, and Museum of Nantes in France.

    II. Chronology

    • 1855 Born in Springfield, Ohio
    • 1872 Working in New York as an engraver for Harper’s Weekly; completed work for Harper’s American edition of Dickens, Bellew’s Comic Monthly, and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper
    • 1876 Moved to France to study scene-painting, soon enrolled at École des Beaux-Arts and studied with figure painting with Jean Léon Gerôme
    • 1877 Spent first of several summers at coasts of Brittany and Normandy painting marine scenes
    • 1880 Fay Church, Near Neours exhibited at Salon
    • 1883 French government purchased Port of Isigny for Luxembourg Museum
    • Exhibited in London and due to success established a studio there
    • 1884 Traveled to Holland
    • 1923 Became French citizen
    • 1926 Notified that he would receive French Legion of Honor, died in France before ceremony took place

    III. Collections

    • Brooklyn Museum, NY
    • Chrysler Museum of Art, VA
    • El Paso Museum of Art, TX
    • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
    • Hunter Museum of American Art, TN
    • Luxembourg Museum, Paris
    • Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
    • Museum Nirot, France
    • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
    • Sheldon Museum of Art, NE
    • Springfield Museum of Art, OH

    IV. Exhibitions

    • 1875, 1877–80, 1884, 1891–92 Brooklyn Art Association
    • 1879–90 National Academy of Design
    • 1880, 1883, 1916 Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
    • 1880–90, 1893–99 Paris Salon
    • 1884 Royal Academy, London
    • 1885 Exh. NY, prize
    • 1888, 1897, 1908 Art Institute of Chicago
    • 1889 Paris Exposition, medal

    VI. Suggested Resources

    • Alexandre, Arsène. Frank Boggs. Paris: Le Groupy, 1929.
    • Child, Theodore. “Frank Myers Boggs.” The Art Amateur 11 (August 1884): 53–7.
    • Falk, Peter H. “Frank Myers Boggs” in Who Was Who in American Art: Artists Active between 1898 and 1947. Madison, Connecticut: Sound View Press, 1999, 365.

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