Frank Hector L. Tompkins (1847-1922)

Frank Hector L. Tompkins (1847-1922)

Frank Hector Tompkins was born in upstate New York, but grew up in Ohio, later enrolling at the Cincinnati Academy of Design. He also attended the Art Students League in New York City and, like many artists of his generation, traveled abroad from 1882 to 1887, studying at the Royal Academy in Munich. There he was awarded two first place prizes for painting in 1884 and 1885. Upon his return to America in 1887, Tompkins opened a studio in Boston and joined the Boston Art Club, participating in group exhibitions over the next three decades.

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Tompkins was a talented portrait painter, capturing the likenesses of many notable sitters over the years, including fellow artist John J. Enneking and William Howe Downes, art critic for the Boston Evening Transcript.  Yet he also found inspiration in figural work and landscape, choosing his subjects while visiting the suburbs, walking along the waterfront or passing through the city’s parks, where local families and children would enjoy their day. 

Sadly, Frank Tompkins passed away in July of 1922, only a few months after his Boston Art Club retrospective.  In addition to the Boston Art Club, Tompkins exhibited regularly at the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Corcoran Gallery and also had a one-man show at Vose Galleries in 1914. Examples of the artist’s portrait work can be found at the Franklin Public Library, in Franklin, Massachusetts, at Harvard University’s Fogg Museum, and the artist’s self-portrait from 1914 is now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 

References: Falk, Who Was Who in American Art, 1999; Vose Galleries Archives; Boston Public Library artist files. 

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