Born in Germany, Frederick Ferdinand Schaefer became an American citizen in San Francisco in 1884. He was a member of the San Francisco Art Association in 1880 and 1889, and it is known from labels on the backs of his paintings that he visited Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Schaefer specialized in landscapes and Indian subjects. In his early work he emphasized the dark tones of the regions in which he painted; he later adopted an impressionistic approach.
Oakland city directories show that Schaefer apparently spent the years from 1905 to 1917 in that city, and probably died there as well. According to those who knew him, he fought a constant battle with alcoholism. A number of his works are owned by two major western collectors: Dr. Franz R. Stenzel and Robert B. Honeyman, Jr.
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