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Frederick Tanqueray Anderson

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Frederick Tanqueray Anderson was a well- respected Arkansas watercolorist and romantic American Landscape artist, whose work was beloved by President Theodore Roosevelt.

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Frederick Tanqueray Anderson was born on July 1, 1846, to Robert Cuthbert Anderson and Hortense Barraque Anderson on his grandfather’s Arkansas River plantation near New Gascony, west of Pine Bluff. Anderson’s grandfather, Antoine Barraque, was a well-respected settler after serving as an officer under Napoleon Bonaparte during the French Revolution. Anderson developed a love for the beauty of the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers after traveling between his grandfather’s Arkansas plantation and New Orleans from 1850 to 1857. As a child, Anderson and his family moved around quite a bit, living in places like New Orleans and Bolivar Township and Red Bluff in Jefferson County, Arkansas.

In 1870, Anderson moved to Memphis, Tennessee to become a bookkeeper with the Cotton Exchange. There he showcased his artistic talents by not only having his painting displayed in Cotton Exchange but by also having the Memphis Appeal publish an article about that painting on August 2, 1874. His painting was entitled Rapidly Ascending the Mississippi as it depicted the steamboat Phlallin’ charging up the Mississippi River at full speed. Anderson’s painting included such realistic details and displayed Anderson’s understanding of lighting and mood that the Memphis Appeal described it as “one of the most natural and beautiful pictures in the city.”

In 1878, Anderson married Lula Bruce, the daughter of Noble S. Bruce, a well-known Memphis resident. The couple had three sons as Anderson continued to work in the cotton industry. In 1889, desiring to further his artistic education, he traveled to Europe to study under Camille Pissarro, an impressionist painter. Anderson returned to America in 1894, after five years of study. Upon his return, he contributed to numerous illustrated magazines of his time, including Harper’s Weekly and Leslie’s.

Anderson was a watercolorist who was also categorized as a romantic American Landscape artist because his interest in nature aligned with the fascination with the American landscape and industrialization that steamboats romanticized so effectively. During his time, his work was not as well respected as it is now because his landscape style was similar to the works of mid-nineteenth century Hudson School painters like Thomas Cole and Winslow Homer, whose work was considered outdated with the rise and acclaim achieved by Avante-Garde artists of the time like Pablo Picasso. Though he did not achieve world renown, Anderson’s work was quite popular in Arkansas and Tennessee. In fact, President Theodore Roosevelt became a big fan of Anderson’s work after receiving one of his paintings at a Waterway Convention in 1907. Roosevelt was so enamored with this first painting that a second one was commissioned as a surprise gift depicting the New Orleans, an 1811 steamboat that was captained by Nicholas Roosevelt, one of the president’s ancestors.

Anderson lived to enjoy the popularity of his work in Arkansas by seeing his works exhibited at the residence of Edward Craig in Bentonville in 1915. Anderson died on November 14, 1926, in Larchmont, New York, at his son Lewis’ home. He is buried next to his wife in Memphis’s Elmwood Cemetery.

After his death, his work was exhibited two more times. In 1945, at the Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, now the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, and in 1983, at the Southeast Arkansas Arts and Science Center in Pine Bluff, now the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas. Fans of Anderson’s work can still view his 1908 painting, The J.N. Harbin’ at the Arts & Science Center, even though many of his other paintings are held by private collectors.


Written by: Ninfa O. Barnard

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