Frederick William "F.W." Billing

Mt Vesuvius

915951 Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples

Oil on Canvas

Image Size 16 x 24


This European born Artist traveled the Western United States Throughout the late 1800's. His work is listed in several University works on famous painters of the 19th century. His main association was with the Hudson River School.

The following is from Mackenzie Gordon, great-grandson of the artist.

Born October 2, 1835, in Eschwege near Kassel, Germany, Frederic Billing received his schooling in that town but did not go to a university. He had an early interest in art, but his father forbade him to pursue fine art because he wanted his son to become a business man, which he did. And then he used his money to buy paints and brushes, which he concealed in the house.

In the mid 1850s, when he came of age, Billing came to America to seek his fortune, and he settled in Brooklyn where he married Wilhelmina Sickert from Dusseldorf, Germany. He served in the Civil War and wounded, received an honorable discharge, and then in Brooklyn, opened a brokerage business, Hagen and Billing. During this time, he completed paintings, primarily still lifes and figurative subjects with dark backgrounds. By the mid 1860s, he turned to landscapes, encouraged by Johann Carmiencke with whom he studied.

During the 1870s, most of his paintings were European landscapes he recalled from earlier travels, but he also depicted scenes in the New York region and exhibited once at the Brooklyn Academy of Painting.

In the late '70s, because of poor health, he moved to Leadville, Colorado, where his brother Gustav had preceded him and now, with a partner, owned a smelter. From 1879 to 1885, Frederick Billing lived in Salt Lake City, where he became an ore buyer, and for a brief period, he operated the Flagstaff Mine in the Wasatch Range.

During this time, he painted landscapes of the Wasatch Range, Twin Falls region, Green River, Teton Mountains, and Yellowstone Park, which he visited with Thomas and Peter Moran. The friendship of this threesome is indicated by a painting of the Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, painted primarily by Billing, with a large tree in the left foreground by Thomas Moran and a stag in the right foreground by Peter Moran. All three initialed the work.

In 1884, Billing's daughter married an Englishman, J.F. Coope, and the Coopes and the Billings went into a farming partnership near Woodside, California. However, the couples did not get along very well because Billling was such a strong minded man. He continued to paint with his last painting dated 1903.

He died in August of 1914.



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