Indiana-born artist Durr Freedley moved from Paris to Newport in 1932, making it his adopted home until his untimely death in 1938. During his brief time here, Freedley endeared himself to much of the local community, painting portraits for numerous Newport families and befriending creative forces such as Maud Howe Elliott and John Howard Benson. He served on the Council of the Art Association of Newport -- today’s Newport Art Museum -- and is perhaps best known locally for his 1933 murals in Newport’s Memorial Chapel of the Seamen’s Church Institute.
But Freedley’s accomplishments stretched far beyond his work on Aquidneck Island. He was a brilliant Harvard graduate—editor of the Lampoon—who had also attended Williams College and the Royal Academy of Art. He was a decorative arts curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he made numerous important contributions, such as the development of the American Wing. He was an Arts and Crafts artist who transitioned to Art Deco, painting elegant portraits that combined the sensibilities of the early Italian Renaissance, Asian art, and the French Art Deco movement.
This exhibition explores the many artistic connections and contributions of Durr Freedley, and includes portraits, drawings, ecclesiastical designs and architectural drawings from Newport’s “forgotten” artist. The Newport Art Museum is fortunate to own a significant body of work by Freedley -- gifts from both Mrs. Hamilton Fish Webster and the John Howard Benson family -- and the Museum’s collection of his work will be augmented by loans from Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum and Benson family members. An elegant publication on Freedley’s work will also accompany the exhibition, designed by Fisher Press and made possible through the generosity of Elizabeth Prince de Ramel. The Museum is grateful for exhibition support from Skinner Auctions and Terrence and Suzanne Murray.