Frederick Wagner (1864 – 1940)
A native of Pennsylvania, Frederick Wagner was a painter of impressionist urban scenes, often views of Philadelphia. His many cityscapes including views of bridges and skyscapes were a distinct genre in the United States at the turn of the 20th century, and he began these subjects as early as 1906. The suggestion of many of his paintings is that the city is overwhelming and that human beings are diminished in importance and fragile.
He was born in Valley Forge and became a student of Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1879 to 1884. He worked as an illustrator for the Philadelphia Press, spent time in the West, and returned to Philadelphia in 1902. There he was influenced by Robert Henri, William Glackens, and John Sloan who espoused realism in subject matter and rebellion against the romantic aura of impressionism. His working method was to sketch something of interest and to complete the work in his studio by painting on coarse burlap, glued to canvas.
He was a member of the Philadelphia Sketch Club and exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy over 35 times from 1906-1940, winning prizes in 1914 and 1922. Wagner exhibited at the Carnegie 14 times from 1898 – 1925. He showed two works at the Armory Show, and exhibited 11 times at the Corcoran between 1907 – 1935. He had a special exhibit of 100 pastels, at the Corcoran in April 1924. Wagner exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1884, 1907, 1925 and 1928.
Zabriskie Gallery, NYC held a Solo Show in 1959, and in October of 1961, the Philadelphia Art Alliance held a 100th Anniversary Exhibition of Fred Wagner Paintings