Frank Duveneck

Historical Marker #1854 in Kenton County remembers Frank Duvenek, a world renowned artist and teacher.

Duveneck was born in Covington on October 9, 1848, to German parents Bernard and Katherine Decker. Frank's father died while Frank was an infant. His mother's second husband, Squire Johnson Duveneck, adopted Frank and the child took the Duveneck name. While Frank had little formal education, his artistic abilities became evident in his early teens. He soon began to paint and decorate the local Catholic churches in Covington and Cincinnati, as well as other parts of the United States and Canada.

In 1870, Duveneck's talent led him to the Royal Academy in Munich, Germany, a prestigious art school. There, Frank became a "prized pupil." He returned to America in 1873, but not until he had won every prize awarded at the academy. He also painted many of his most popular works while in Germany. In 1875, a Boston exhibition rocketed Duveneck to fame. Magazines called him "an unexpected man of genius" and "the greatest genius of the American brush."

Duveneck returned to Europe in the mid 1870s. He taught art classes and opened his own school in Munich in 1878. Dubbed the "Duveneck Boys," his students included many future leaders of American painting. The school moved to Italy in 1879 for two years, and his "boys" followed. His early teaching emphasized rapid brush strokes and color instead of faithful renderings, but his work became more naturalistic over time.

Duveneck married his pupil Elizabeth Boott of Boston on March 25, 1886, and had one son. After her death in 1888, Duveneck returned to Covington, where he spent the rest of his life. He continued teaching art in Cincinnati and other cities in the United States. He also travelled internationally to exhibit his work. In the spring of 1915, Duveneck donated many of his finest works to the Cincinnati Art Museum, where he taught and became the director in 1904. He held that position until his death in 1919.