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John Frankenstein

Also Known as: John P. Frankenstein, John Peter Frankenstein, J. P. Frankenstein, John Peter Drach

Germany 1816

New York, New York 1881

Active in:

  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Luce Artist Biography

John P. Frankenstein emigrated from Germany to Cincinnati, Ohio, with his family of artists when he was fifteen years old. Entirely self-taught, he was encouraged by local sculptor Hiram Powers to pursue a career in art. Frankenstein soon became a professional portrait painter and sculptor and spent much of his career working in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and New York. After losing some important patronage later in his career, and unable to achieve critical and financial success, he became bitter and resentful of the art world. In 1864, he published American Art: Its Awful Altitude, a 112-page poem in which he criticized successful American artists, patrons, and critics by name. After the Civil War, he settled permanently in New York City, where he spent the remainder of his life as a recluse.