Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Duveneck Boys . Pt. 5

As previously stated from Nobert Hermann's book, Frank Duveneck: "In the year 1878 Duveneck started a school in Munich, which became so very popular that soon two classes had to be formed of about thirty each, one of Americans and English, the other of different nationalities; and when the desire to again see Italy took him back to Florence at the end of the following year (1879) fully half of his students went with him. Thus his school was transplanted to the banks of the Arno, and the members soon established themselves in the social as well as the artistic circles of Florence as the "Duveneck Boys."

Florence, 1880 by Frank Duveneck

A live picture of this earnest but exuberant group is given in W.D. Howell's story of Florentine Life, Indian Summer, where they are called the "Inglehart Boys." The breezy references to them are invested with a feeling of interest and friendliness. One of the characters introduces them thus:

"They were here all last winter and they just got back. It's rather exciting for Florence. She gave a score of young painters from an art school at Munich under the head of the singular and fascinating genius by whose name they became known. They had their own school for a while in Munich, and then they all came down into Italy in a body. They had their studio things with them, and they traveled third class, and had the greatest fun. They were a sensation in Florence. They went everywhere and were such favorites. I hope they are going to stay."

Such was the impression of them which Howells found in Florence when he went there the year after they had disbanded, and it should be remembered that the Florence of that day was a rallying place for the most fascinating people of Europe.

The  Duveneck Boys stayed together for about two years working in Florence in the winter and in Venice in the summer. Among them were
  • John W. Alexander
  • John Twachtman
  • Joseph DeCamp
  • Julius Rolshoven
  • Oliver Dennett Grover
  • Otto Bacher
  • Theodore Wendel
  • Louis Ritter
  • Ross Turner
  • Harper Pennington
  • Charles Forbes
  • George E. Hopkins
  • Julian Story
  • Charles E. Mills
  • Albert Reinhart
  • Charles H. Freeman
  • Henry Rosenberg
  • John O. Anderson
  • Charles Abel Corwin
  • Oliver Dennett Grover
  • Charles Frederic Ulrich
  • and more
Oliver Grover in speaking about his colleagues said that the advice of John Twachtman, of the Cincinnati contingent, one of the older ones, whose knowledge was wider, was appreciated next to that of the "Old Man," as they lovingly denominated Duveneck. Then he continued: "Joseph DeCamp was just plain Joe in those days, the breeziest, cheekiest, most warm-hearted Bohemian in Venice. Full of life, energy, and ambition, he worked unceasingly and gave and took many a hard knock.

Rolshoven, too, was endowed by nature with the artistic temperament, making it especially difficult for him to adapt himself to routine work.

Alexander, of course, was the born favorite and leader which he continued to be throughout his life. We always thought, had Alexander not chosen art as his vocation, he might have become a great diplomat. I remember him at the last annual meeting of the National Academy of Design at which he presided, and during the little while I could converse with him, he took occasion to speak of student days, and to voice feelingly his sense of the obligation he and all of us were under to Duveneck; incidentally, also, recalling Sargent's beautiful estimate of him.

The student days in Italy were all too short, but while they lasted they were more significant, probably, than a similar period in the lives of most students, because they were more intensified, more concentrated. The usual student experiences of work and play, elation and dejection, feast and famine, were ours, of course, but in addition to that, and owing to peculiar circumstances and conditions, the advantage of the intimate association and constant companionship we enjoyed not only with our leader but also with his acquaintances and fellow artists, men and women from many lands, was unique and perhaps quite as valuable as any actual school work. We lived in adjoining room, dined in the same restaurant, frequented the same cafes, worked and played together with an intimacy only possible to that age and such a community of interest."

The inspiration of this class was well epitomized by Duveneck's old professor Diez; it was "Work." It was his custom at the beginning of the year to make an address to the class, and in closing his talk he always said: "Now, I don't want any geniuses in this class; I don't care for pupils who claim an abundance of talent; but what I do want is a crowd of good workers." "This is the thought I have always tried to instill into my pupils," says Mr. Duveneck.

Text from Norbert Hermann's 1918 book, "Frank Duveneck."