Rose Frantzen’s show is a stunning tour de force of alla prima portrait painting. One hundred and eighty 12x12 portraits painted on what looks like half inch panels which are not framed. Each portrait was painted in four or five hours from life. Anyone willing to take the time to sit for her was accepted.
What emerges besides the individual personalities is a sensitive group portrait of a town. You begin to get the sense of a relatively small community (population 5917). Frantzen’s ability to record the subtleties of each person’s skin tones is amazing. Each portrait captures a moment in time with the sitter, without excessive flattery.
When you think of what it would take to paint 180 portraits from life in a year’s time you understand the power of her accomplishment. Now add to that the level of quality of these paintings and you realize you are standing before something special. This woman is truly one of the best painters in the country at this time. Her abilities are formidable, combining broad facile brushwork with a beautiful color sense and keen eye for values.
If you are living in the Mid-Atlantic Area, or have the means to travel here from farther away, this is a chance to see a living painters work as accomplished as Sargent or Beaux. The show is on display at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery until July 5 2010, don’t miss it. The show is accompanied by a hardcover catalog which has faithfully captured the paintings.
All images in this review are by Rose Frantzen the copyrights are held by her.