Arthur Burdett Frost (American, 1851-1928)
Signed "A.B. FROST" in watercolor l.r., dedicated "To Doctor Eugene F. Hoyt from his
friend A.B. Frost April 1906." in pencil l.r.
Watercolor and graphite on watercolor board, sight size 16 1/2 x 23 7/8 in. (42.0 x 60.6 cm), framed.
Condition: Minor toning, acid burn to the reverse.
Provenance: From the artist to Dr. Eugene F. Hoyt (1846-1913), New York; by family descent to Mrs. Eugene F. Hoyt; gift to her friend, Mrs. Parker; gift to her friend, Mame Ross; present private collection by family descent.
N.B. One of America's most beloved illustrators at the turn of the century, A. B. Frost was an avid sportsman, and his first-hand experiences endowed his sporting subjects with great immediacy. In the present work, a farmer, his plow and team of horses in the background, leans across a split rail fence and gestures vehemently to a hunter, who holds a rifle in the crook of one arm while he points towards his two sporting dogs retreating to the right. It is a classic confrontation between those for whom the land serves different purposes, the fence suggesting both a physical and psychological divide.
A keen observer and gifted draftsman, Frost was strongly influenced by Thomas Eakins, under whom he studied in evening classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the two artists remained colleagues and friends. Frost also studied with William Merritt Chase at his School of Art in Shinnecock Hills, Long Island. Frost's paintings of hunting and fishing captured moments of imminent action, described by biographer Henry Reed as "an electric instance of suspense," in meticulously-observed outdoor settings. Reed further wrote of Frost, "He could draw a man with his back to the observer, dressed in a sack suit, and you can practically see the expression on the subject's face." (1)
A.B. Frost illustrated over 90 books during a career spanning five decades. His works appeared in major publications of the day, including Harper's Weekly, Scribner's, and Life. He created illustrations for Theodore Roosevelt, who warmly praised his work, and for Lewis Carroll. Frost is probably best remembered for his illustrations of Joel Chandler Harris's books, The Stories of Uncle Remus, including the iconic images of Brer Rabbit. Frost was also well known for his illustrations of golf, these vignettes frequently seasoned with a generous dose of the illustrator's good humor.
1. Henry M. Reed, The A. B. Frost Book (Charleston, South Carolina: Wyrick & Company, 1993), p. 4.
Watercolor board stamped "Winsor & Newton's/.../...England" on the reverse.