link to University of Utah Home link to Marriott Library Home
Off Campus Access - Log In

Utah Artists Project Logo

Frank I. Zimbeaux

Frank Zimbeaux was born in October, 1860, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was a prominent impressionist painter, a poet, and a photographer. He died in 1935.

Zimbeaux was raised in an orphanage operated by an order of Catholic monks who schooled him and discovered his artistic abilities which they encouraged. Later as a young man, he continued his interest in art, living in several East coast cities and going to art school.

Some of the people he painted in France were: Madame la Comtesse de la Tallyrand,Madame la Baronne Etienne de la MotteMonsignor la Marquis de Chambrun,Madame la Comtesse de Lur Saluces, among others.

Biography adapted from material supplied by Francis H. Zimbeaux, artist's son.

Frank Zimbeaux was born in October, 1860, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His mother and father both died while he and a sister were very young. The children were placed in separate orphanages - Frank in an orphanage operated by an order of Catholic monks who schooled him and discovered his artistic abilities which they encouraged. Later as a young man, he continued his interest in art, living in several East coast cities and going to art school. He also spent some time in Pensacola and St. Petersburgh, Florida, there taking up photography as a side line.

While still a young man, he went to Europe to continue his art studies. He opened a studio on the left bank of Paris and became acquainted with many of the artists living there at the time. I remember my father telling me of his friendship with Mattisse and there he also met Henri Moser from Utah and Idaho who was also studying art in Paris at that time. A friendship developed that lasted the rest of their lives.

My father, living in Paris at the time of the great movement towards cubism and modern art, stayed much closer to the Impressionists of which many of his works are related. Much of his work in Paris was portraiture of which I have only photographs. Some of the people he painted were: Madame la Comtesse de la Tallyrand, Madame la Baronne Etienne de la Motte, Monsignor la Marquis de Chambrun, Madame la Comtesse de Lur Saluces, among others.

He met Lillian Clotilda Wehlisch from England. They were married at a side altar in Notre Dame Cathedral, and though probably quite conservative themselves, they lived a happy and busy life among the Bohemians of the left bank, engrossed in the world of art. I was born during the celebration of Bastille Day (the national holiday of France, July 14th), while the fireworks were going off over the River Seine.

My father, a true poet and of gentle nature, was a lover of beauty and his fellow man. His landscapes always had a tranquil peaceful feeling, pastoral, of gentle days in the countryside. He often painted mythological beings in the woods and meadows. A dream world of nymphs dancing in the summertime are often seen in his landscapes.

With the coming of World War I, Americans were asked to come home. My mother and I went to England to spend a few months with her sisters, while my father left Paris later from le Havre.

It was a different world in the United States after my father's Bohemian days on the left bank in Paris. He visited his sister who had married and settled in Carthage, Missouri. There he opened a studio on a second floor overlooking the town square. He painted the local country and made portraits of some of the local people, while my mother gave piano lessons and taught French. He rented a little house within a tram's ride of Carthage. I remember vividly the country days as a boy - the little garden, some chickens, the bird bath and feeder, the crows cawing in the oak trees beyond the fence. This type of life was a new experience for my father.

But Carthage was no place for the arts. My father corresponded with his friend Henri Moser who was now back at his ranch in Idaho. Ever the free spirit, father traveled the West and spent a summer painting on Henri's ranch. He then opened a studio in Salt Lake City, Utah where my mother and I joined him the following year. It was a different life here also and his paintings here did not sell so readily, as was the case with other artists painting here at the time. Because of this situation and the fact that the Great Depression was just around the corner, my father made photographs to eke out a living.

In his later years as I knew him, he was a very religious person and some of his beautiful paintings of that nature were done. There were several spheres in which he painted - the mythological, the religious, portraits, landscapes and street scenes - all with the same approach. He bought an old Dodge car so he could go out into the country more, but he was always a little afraid to drive it. Yet he continued to paint. He went directly to nature and would set up his easel in all kinds of weather, even in the middle of winter. My father died in 1935.

I like to remember him by this poem he wrote just before departing from France on the steamship “Rochambeau“ at le Havre, and which my friend, James Haseltine, included in his beautiful book, 100 Years of Utah Paintings.

“The moon has just risen...................... 
evening in all its glory and tranquility, 
here on the verge of the high seas, 
where all men are alike, 
the sky grows darker, 
the shadows more solid, 
moving figures more infinite, 
the stars more brilliant, 
water more magnificent, 
but man, poor man, weaker, 
until sleep becomes the master.

Biography courtesy Francis H. Zimbeaux, artist's son.

Books

Davenport, Ray. Davenport's Art Reference. Ventura, CA: Davenport's Art Reference, 1986.

Dawdy, Doris. Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary. Chicago, IL: Sage Books, 1990.

Dunbier, Lonnie Pierson, ed. The Artists Bluebook: 29,000 North American Artists. Scottsdale, AZ: Askart.com.

Falk, Peter Hastings. Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975: 400 Years of Artists in America. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1999.

Falk, Peter Hastings. Who Was Who in American Art: Compiled from the Original Thirty-four Volumes of American Art Annual: Who's Who in Art, Biographies of American Artists Active from 1898-1947. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1985.

Haseltine, James L. 100 Years of Utah Painting: Selected Works from the 1840s to the 1940s. Salt Lake City, UT: Salt Lake Art Center, 1965.

Olpin, Robert S., William C. Seifrit, and Vern G. Swanson. Artists of Utah. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1999.

Samuels, Peggy and Harold Samuels. The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1976.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, Donna Poulton, and Janie Rogers. 150 Years Survey: Utah Art and Utah Artists. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 2001.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Painting and Sculpture. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1991.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Art. Layton, UT: Peregrine Smith Books, 1991.

 Last Modified 8/28/13