‘The Knitting Lesson’
Oil on panel 23″ x 19″
Pierre Edouard Frere
Pierre Edouard Frere was born in Paris in 1819 and commenced his art studies at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1836, studying under Paul Delaroche. He ranks amongst the very best of the nineteenth century European painters of the hugely popular genre of children. It was with reference to Frere, that Ruskin demanded ecstatically ‘Who would have believed it possible to unite the depth of Wordsworth, the grace of Reynolds and the holiness of Angelico’.
The Knitting Lesson is one of Pierre Edouard Frere’s finest oenvre – a beautifuuly executed work, which displays all the elements of fine genre painting. The elder sister is patiently teaching the younger girl how to knit a stocking and Frere has successfully captured the look of concentration on the two girls’ faces, which are charmingly illuminated with rays of light from a window. The interior is a simple one, painted using soft muted tones, so as not to distract from the focal point of the painting – the two pretty young sisters knitting together. The red shawl, casually draped over the back of chair adds a splash of brighter colour, drawing us into the painting and the window into the ajoining room gives added depth to the work.
Pierre Edouard Frere was highly regarded during his lifetime, gaining many medals at L’Ecole des Beaux arts and in 1855 he was made Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur. He was of the most famous artist, painting in the colony of French Artists in the town of Ecouen, where he died in 1886. He and his fellow artists chose to paint rural genre, not so much as to lyricise it, as to momentalise, and they found a ready market in the new Bourgeoisie.
Pierre Edouard Frere’s works can be found in the museums of Bernay, Chartres, Cardiff, Glasgow, Hamburg, Louviers, Melbourne and Sheffield.
© Sutcliffe Galleries 2018