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date: 19 November 2019

Freer, Charles Langlocked

(b Kingston, NY, Feb 25, 1856; d New York, Sept 25, 1919).
  • Kathryn Bonomi

Extract

(b Kingston, NY, Feb 25, 1856; d New York, Sept 25, 1919).

American manufacturer and collector. Born into poverty, he left school at the age of 14 to work, first in a cement factory and then as a clerk in a store. Soon afterwards, Frank J. Hecker, manager of the Kingston & Syracuse Railroad, noticed the young man’s business acumen and made him paymaster of the railroad. In 1880 the two men became partners and opened the first railway carriage factory in the Midwest, the Peninsular Car Works. However, by the age of 44, Freer was compelled to retire because of his frail constitution; already a wealthy man, he was on his way to becoming a major collector. He initially collected art to embellish his home in Detroit, MI, built by Wilson Eyre in 1890 and decorated by the American painters Dwight W. Tryon, Thomas Wilmer Dewing and Abbot Handerson Thayer in exchange for advice on investments. Freer valued the moral character of these artists’ work and shared their vision of pure and noble womanhood found in such paintings as Thayer’s ...

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