Boggs, Frank-Myers

1855-1926

Frank-Myers Boggs was born in Springfield, Ohio on December 6, 1855 and died in Meudon (Hauts- de-Seine), France August 8, 1926. He was a painter, watercolorist and engraver. Boggs is an American-expatriate from the French school.

He received his formal training at the Beaux-Arts Academie under Jean Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) in Paris. Boggs regularly exhibited at the Salon des Artists Francais where he was awarded Hors Concours (exceptional). At the Universal Exposition of 1889, Frank-Myers Boggs was awarded the Silver medal.

Boggs loved France which is witnessed through his atmospheric paintings of its streets, ports, and monuments. His paintings and watercolors placed the viewer on the banks of the Seine on a windy, stormy rain soaked day or on a cloudy spring day at the Marche de Puse. You may also find yourself walking through a small village just out side of Paris, ankle deep in the snow. He used Notre-Dame as a backdrop, as viewed looking up the Seine from quai de Bercy or down the Seine from Pont Royal. His spontaneous paintings lead you on a journey through Paris, down the grand boulevards and past the tour Eiffel. You walk by Les Hales and down the Seine by l’ancien Trocadero. He places you in the middle of the busy Place de Concorde looking up the Champs-Elysees at the Arc de Triomphe and then to the noisy train station. Boggs exposes his romance with Paris and France through the eyes of an artist having an affair.

Boggs also painted Holland, Venice and Belgium. He painted the Ports in Normandy and La Rochelle. He found inspiration from quaint villages and markets.

The Boston Museum purchased the prize-winning painting “la Houle d’Honfleur” by Boggs’s for $2,500 at the 1885 Universal Exposition exhibition in New York.

Museums:

  • Montreal Museum
  • Mulhouse
  • Nantes
  • Metropolitan Museum, New York
  • Boston Fine Art Museum
  • Luxembourg Museum

THE AMERICAN IMPRESSIONIST

Frank Myers Boggs spent both his formative and mature years abroad. He was born in Springfield, Ohio, but moved as a young boy to New York, where his father was a newspaper executive. Boggs began his career as a wood engraver, preparing illustrations for Harper~ Weekly and for an American edition of the works of Charles Dickens. He also studied briefly under the portraitist John Barnard Whittaker.

After working at Niblo’s Garden in New York as a set designer, Boggs went to Paris to study scene painting, On his arrival in 1876, he was unable to find an instructor in that field and instead entered the Ecole des Beaux Arts. His teacher there, Jean Leon Gérôme, encouraged Boggs to try outdoor landscape subjects, and between 1877 and Mi, he concentrated on marine pictures and harbor scenes in Dieppe, Honfleur and Grandcamp. Views of architecture and street scenes later became a part of his oeuvre as well.

On his return to the United States in 1878 or 1879, Boggs did much of his painting on Shelter Island and exhibited frequently at the National Academy of Design, without much success. He soon returned to Europe where his work attracted attention in both Paris and London.

By the late 1880s, Boggs was acquainted with the Impressionists Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Pierre Auguste Renoir and Eugene Boudin, but his affinity for marine subjects, his use of a somber tonal palette and restrained Impressionist technique better reflect his admiration for the Dutch marine painter Johann Barthold Jongkind, whom he met in Paris at the same time.

Boggs returned briefly to America in 1888, but the following year he was back in Paris, exhibiting at the Universal Exposition. In 1890 he made a trip to Algiers, which resulted in a number of sketches and paintings of Arab themes. Throughout the next decade, Boggs traveled extensively in Europe although he frequently visited his relatives in America. He exhibited at the Paris Salon, at most of the international expositions, and in major cities in the United States and in Europe.

Boggs was especially known for his panoramic views of Paris from the banks of the Seine, which threads its way through the city, leaving two islands in its wake, the Ile St. Louis and the Ile de la Cite. The artist gives us a glimpse of both in Quai Henri IV Paris. From the glistening foreground walkway, we look westward toward the Pont de Sully, which connects the Left Bank sector of Paris to the tip of the Ile St. Louis and, in turn, that tip to the Right Bank. Further on, the buttressed end of the famed Notre Dame Cathedral can be seen towering over the Ile de la Cite.

Boggs skillfully introduces story elements into the painting, both on the shore and in the water; a huge net has been spread out to dry at the edge of the embankment while nearby, a young boy tending a horse and cart walks with his dog. The linearity of the abandoned pilings in the foreground is repeated in the trees and flag poles in the distance. Puffing rolls of smoke from the numerous tugs and a single, heavily loaded barge are visible reminders of the constant river traffic of the Seine at the turn of the century.

The iridescence of the river and the tumultuous, swirling clouds, both major characteristics of Boggs’s work, are used to their fullest extent in Quai Henri a Paris. This sky and water treatment was perceptively described by a contemporary critic:

The most somber sky acquires a seductive quality. An opening in the moving clouds is a glimpse of a pale blue of a charming delicacy Between the muddy bank, flanked by unloading boars, and a quai surmounted by tall houses all shadowed masses the Seine, monopolizing all the light, becomes a river of caressing luminosity …

Boggs captures the complete ambience of the scene in Quai Henri IV à Paris, to produce not just a document of place and landmarks, but also to give us the sensation of transitory mood in the tonality of the weather, the season [and] the hour.

  • L. B. Quoted in Frank Boggs. exh. cat. (New York: Bernard Black Gallery, 1964 Frank Boggs.

 

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