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Frederick Ferdinand Schafer Painting Catalog

Problematic painting record FFSp1113

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[photo] [Stroller on a (Mediterranean?) Path]

Medium: oil on panel
Size: not reported, appears to be about 6 x 10 in.
Inscription: Signed l/c "F. S" in a Germanic printed hand similar to that used by Frederick Schafer.
Verso: No inscription.
Provenance: In private collection, Zürich, Switzerland, by 2019.
Citations: Personal communication with the collector, 2019.
Attribution: Since the painting is signed with initials its attribution is open to question.
In favor of attribution are several characteristic features of Schafer's work:
- There are several other pictures with similar subject matter and composition, a landscape with a figure in the middle distance strolling along a path and facing away from the viewer. See, for example, In the foothills, near Sausalito, California, a painting that bears a startling resemblance to this one, and Morning near Sausalito, California, in which the strolling woman is clothed in an outfit similar to the one in this painting. The thumbnail indices of pastoral and rural scenes and forest path scenes include some additional pictures with similar composition.
- The painting depicts botanically detailed trees and shrubbery.
- The more distant planes are less finished than the near ones.
- The woman’s outfit (puff-sleeved blouse, contrasting skirt, and matching head covering) appears to be eastern European. Eastern European outfits are found in other works by Schafer, for example the two mentioned above as well as On the Bosporus, Turkey [1] and On the Bosporus, Turkey [2].
- The painting maintains a consistent source of illumination, in this case from the left, and also uses light and shadow to draw the eye to the strolling woman.

Against attribution are some unexpected properties:
- The signature initials have flourishes that are somewhat different from Schafer’s usual signing or writing style.
- The painting appears to be on a wood panel. None of the other 800-odd known Schafer works are painted on a wood panel.
- The foreground water is not convincingly level. Schafer was very good at painting convincing water.

Summary: Inconclusive. The small size and extensive craquelure make it difficult to analyze from a photograph. The painting emerged in Switzerland, so this may be an early work by the artist, a composition form that he continued to use after emigrating to America.

Identification: Assigned, descriptive title
In index(es): pastoral and rural scenes, questioned attributions

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Mar 10, 2024, 11:47 MDT Accessibility