William Charles Anthony Frerichs was born in Ghent, Belgium, in 1829. He was the son of William Daniel, a general in the Dutch Army. His name at birth was Wilhelm Karel Anthonius Frerichs. He was educated in Belgium, studying medicine at the University of Leyden, and art at the Royal Academies in The Hague and Brussels. At the age of 18 years old, he painted a 12X17 foot canvas that was purchased for the emperor of Russia. He was well traveled as a young adult and enhanced his art training with independent study in Paris, Rome and Vienna.
In 1850, he immigrated to the United States, settling first in New York City. In January of 1954, he married Clara Branwhite Butler with whom he had three children. In the same year, he exhibited at the National Academy of Design. Soon after their marriage, they moved to Greensboro College, North Carolina, where he taught art until 1863. Frerichs left Greensboro at every opportunity to explore the rich surrounding rocky landscape to the west. This inspired him to paint grand, romanticized works with towering mountains, rushing waterfalls and lush forests. In 1863 a fire destroyed most of his work. But, because of his knowledge of the mountains, the Confederate Corps of Army Engineers drafted Frerichs to supervise mining operations. By 1865, Frerichs and his family returned to New York City nearly destitute. In 1869, He moved to Tottenville, Staten Island and later to Newark, New Jersey, where he operated an art school. In 1874, his wife Clara died. He remarried and had two more sons. Frerichs died in Tottenville on March 16, 1905, at the age of 76.
While Frerichs is remembered today for his landscape paintings, he also produced portraits, still-life compositions, and animal and religious subjects. Having been an "outsider" all his life, Frerichs was never an active member of the circle of landscape painters centered in New York.
All That is Glorious Around Us: Painting from the Hudson School, by John Paul Driscoll
Sharon Frerichs Magee (great-great granddaughter)