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Alfred J. Frueh papers, circa 1880-2010

Biographical Note

Alfred J. Frueh (1880-1968) worked primarily in New York and was best known for his caricatures of theater personalities that appeared in The New Yorker from 1925 through 1962. In addition, he was a cartoonist, illustrator, painter, and designer of children's furniture, toys, pop-ups, and cut-outs.
Upon graduation from the Lima Business College in his native Lima, Ohio, Al Frueh (pronounced "free") began farming and working in his father's brewery. He moved to St. Louis to live with relatives, and from 1904-1908 worked in the art department of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Frueh's 1907 cartoon of Fritzi Scheff, published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, so outraged the music-hall star that her St. Louis performance was cancelled and the attendant publicity made Frueh a celebrity.
Frueh traveled to Paris, London, Rome, Munich, Berlin, and Madrid in 1908 and 1909. During this period, he studied at various art schools in Paris, receiving instruction from Theophile Steinlen, Lucien Simon, Naudin, and Henri Matisse. Upon his return to the United States, Frueh settled in New York City. His tenure at The World was interrupted by a return trip to Europe lasting from late 1912 until late 1914. While abroad, he married Giuliette Fanciulli, whom he had met in New York. He remained with The World for another ten years, also producing other work for publication and exhibition. With a young family, Frueh wanted a less hectic life and decided to switch from a daily publication to a weekly one. Thus began his affiliation with a newly established periodical, The New Yorker. Frueh's work appeared in its 1925 debut issue until his retirement in 1962. Mostly he contributed caricatures for the theater section, but he also produced cover designs, illustrations, and on occasion wrote brief pieces for the "Talk of the Town" and "Notes and Comments" sections. In 1926, Frueh moved his family to a farm in Sharon, Connecticut, where he seriously pursued a longstanding hobby of growing fruit and nut trees.
Alfred J. Frueh died in Sharon, Connecticut, in 1968, after a long illness.