Freer, Charles Lang (frēr) [key], 1856–1919, American art collector, b. Kingston, N.Y. He gave to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., his entire collection and the building (designed according to his direction) that houses it, called the Freer Gallery of Art. A railway and industrial capitalist, he retired from active business in 1900, devoting the rest of his life to art collecting. His taste for the works of Whistler and of Asian masters, and discovery of a close kinship between the two, resulted in a warm friendship with Whistler and the development of an unrivaled collection of his works; this included the Peacock Room from the Leyland house, London, which had Whistler decorations. The gallery also contains a fine collection of Chinese and Japanese paintings and art objects and a remarkable collection of antique glazed pottery with examples from Egypt, Persia, India, China, Korea, and Japan.
See H. Gregory's The World of James McNeill Whistler (1959); The World of Whistler by T. Prideaux et al. (1970).
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