The papers of caricaturist and illustrator Alfred J. Frueh measure 7.7 linear feet and 3.18 GB and date from circa 1880-2010. These papers consist of biographical information, including a sound recording of reminiscences about Frueh by his children; correspondence that includes many illustrated letters and greeting cards; notes and writings; numerous caricature sketches, cartoons, and 25 sketchbooks by Frueh; printed and digital material; and photographs of Frueh and his artwork. There is a 2.3 linear foot unprocessed addition to this collection donated 2020 that includes bound and unbound scrapbooks and loose newspaper and magazine clippings of caricatures by Frueh from the New Yorker and other publications, circa 1920-1940.
Scope and Contents note:
The papers of caricaturist and illustrator Alfred J. Frueh measure 7.7 linear feet and 3.18 GB and date from circa 1880-2010. These papers consist of biographical information, including a sound recording of reminiscences about Frueh by his children; correspondence that includes many illustrated letters and greeting cards; notes and writings; numerous caricature sketches, cartoons, and 25 sketchbooks by Frueh; printed and digital material; and photographs of Frueh and his artwork.There is a 2.3 linear foot unprocessed addition to this collection donated 2020 that includes bound and unbound scrapbooks and loose newspaper and magazine clippings of caricatures by Frueh from the New Yorker and other publications, circa 1920-1940.
Biographical materials include birth, marriage, and death certificates, biographical notes, employment contracts, obituaries, and legal papers concerning patents and license agreements for toy animals and sheet material sculpture. Also included is a 1993 sound recording of Frueh's children reminiscing about their father.
Correspondence consists mainly of incoming letters with a small number of interfiled replies drafted by Frueh. Most of Frueh's surviving outgoing letters are addressed to Giuliette Fanciulli (whom he married in 1913), her parents, and his sister Minnie Frueh. Many of the letters to Giuliette and other family members are illustrated. Also included are a large number of greeting cards (mainly Christmas cards) containing original artwork, from friends, artists, writers, and colleagues. The correspondence concerns both personal and career matters. Notable correspondents are: George Gershwin, Robert Henri, Mr. and Mrs. Elie Nadelman, Eugene O'Neil, Walter and Magda Pach, New Yorker editor Harold Ross, and Alfred Stieglitz. Other letters document Frueh's interest in nut and fruit trees.
Among the notes and writings by Frueh are notes of ideas for art work, lists of caricature sketches, lists of plays and their casts, and 8 address books kept by Alfred and Giuliette Frueh and by Giuliette and her mother. Also included are 6 notebooks of miscellaneous jottings. Notes and writings by other authors consist of lists of caricature sketches, a poem by an unknown writer, and 13 short stories by "Joe" with 6 illustrations by Frueh.
Artwork by Frueh comprises the largest series. It consists mainly of caricature sketches, mostly theatrical, but some political, with a few of himself, his wife Giuliette, and their personal friends. In addition, there are various sketches, drawings, designs, prints, watercolors, cartoons, book covers, greeting cards, paper sculptures, pop-ups, and cut-outs. Also included are patterns for greeting cards, lamp bases and a shade, magic squares, paper sculptures, sheet material sculptures, toy animals, and wallpaper. There are also 25 sketchbooks, a digital slideshow presentation of 1600 images from the sketchbooks, and 3 caricatures of Frueh drawn by other artists.
Among the printed material are articles by and about Frueh; book covers and book jackets, magazine covers, invitations, announcements, and a program cover designed by Frueh; caricatures, cartoons, and illustrations by Frueh; exhibition catalogs and announcements of Frueh's solo and group shows; and miscellaneous printed material.
Photographs consist of a studio portrait and informal snapshots of Alfred Frueh and a photograph of his daughter Barbara as a young child. Photographs of art work by Frueh include images of his caricatures, lamp bases, paper sculptures, and toy animals.
The collection is arranged into seven series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1909-1993 (Box 1; 8 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1909-1968 (Boxes 1-2, 12, OV 7; 1.3 linear feet)
Series 3: Notes and Writings, circa 1912-1963 (Box 2; 10 folders)
Series 4: Artwork, circa 1906-2010 (Boxes 2-4, 6, 12, OV 8-9; 1.8 linear feet, ER01; 3.18 GB)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1904-1986 (Boxes 4-5, 6, OV 10-11; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1880-1967 (Boxes 5, 12; 12 folders)
Series 7: Unprocessed Addition circa 1920-1940 (Boxes 13-17; 2.3 linear feet)
Alfred J. Frueh (1880-1968) worked primarily in New York and was best known for his caricatures of theater personalities that appeared in The New Yorker from 1925 through 1962. In addition, he was a cartoonist, illustrator, painter, and designer of children's furniture, toys, pop-ups, and cut-outs.
Upon graduation from the Lima Business College in his native Lima, Ohio, Al Frueh (pronounced "free") began farming and working in his father's brewery. He moved to St. Louis to live with relatives, and from 1904-1908 worked in the art department of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Frueh's 1907 cartoon of Fritzi Scheff, published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, so outraged the music-hall star that her St. Louis performance was cancelled and the attendant publicity made Frueh a celebrity.
Frueh traveled to Paris, London, Rome, Munich, Berlin, and Madrid in 1908 and 1909. During this period, he studied at various art schools in Paris, receiving instruction from Theophile Steinlen, Lucien Simon, Naudin, and Henri Matisse. Upon his return to the United States, Frueh settled in New York City. His tenure at The World was interrupted by a return trip to Europe lasting from late 1912 until late 1914. While abroad, he married Giuliette Fanciulli, whom he had met in New York. He remained with The World for another ten years, also producing other work for publication and exhibition. With a young family, Frueh wanted a less hectic life and decided to switch from a daily publication to a weekly one. Thus began his affiliation with a newly established periodical, The New Yorker. Frueh's work appeared in its 1925 debut issue until his retirement in 1962. Mostly he contributed caricatures for the theater section, but he also produced cover designs, illustrations, and on occasion wrote brief pieces for the "Talk of the Town" and "Notes and Comments" sections. In 1926, Frueh moved his family to a farm in Sharon, Connecticut, where he seriously pursued a longstanding hobby of growing fruit and nut trees.
Alfred J. Frueh died in Sharon, Connecticut, in 1968, after a long illness.
The Alfred J. Frueh papers were the gift of his children, Barbara Frueh Bornemann, Alfred J. Frueh, Jr., and Robert Frueh, in 1993 and 1997. An addition of 25 sketchbooks, scrapbooks, and other materials were given by his grandson Stephen Bornemann in 2011, 2018, and 2020.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
The Alfred J. Frueh papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
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