Listed artist Frederick William Weber was an authority on artists' paint color chemistry and a newspaper columnist and lecturer. Weber served as president, treasurer, and technical director of F. Weber Co., the oldest manufacturer of artists’ materials in the United States. Weber also served as the art critic and as head of the art department for The Philadelphia Record.
A lifelong Philadelphian, Weber followed his father Frederick Theodore Weber (1845-1919) into the paint business. Weber’s career was dedicated to improving, developing, and manufacturing products used by artists. His business career was entirely with F. Weber Co. As a youth he worked during summer vacations for his father. He became Technical Director of the company about 1914. He was elected Treasurer in 1920 and after the death of his older brother Ernest he was named President of F. Weber Co. in 1962. Recognized throughout the fine arts field and the artists’ materials industry for his many accomplishments Weber was an authority on the preservation and restoration of paint films, and for many years lectured at leading professional art schools, colleges, and galleries throughout the country on this subject as well as on the techniques of fine arts painting.
As Technical Director of the company he developed the exclusive Weber formulas. Among his most notable product inventions is Original Permalba White, first formulated in 1921, it was the first nontoxic, opaque, white oil paint with smooth working qualities to replace the toxic, lead-based whites that artists had used for hundreds of years. F. Weber Co. “Permalba” became a byword of artists’ colors and is best known as an oil color white. Permalba is actually a composite white pigment formulated and developed by Weber, and marked the first time a titanium based pigment was successfully modified for artists’ use. Used in Weber water colors. pastels and inks, as well as in oil colors and pigments, Permalba was also employed as a priming for Weber artists’ canvases because of its durability and unchanging characteristics.
In the 1930’s Weber introduced new pigments to the industry with excellent lightfastness and reduced toxicity and synthetic varnishes to replace the less stable natural materials used in the past. It was around 1930 that Weber first began his research into the adaptation of the then new plastic resins. When World War II cut off the supply of natural gums, such as Copal, Damar and Mastic, Weber was already marketing a highly acceptable line of synthetic resin products which took their place. He worked with acrylics, styrenes, and vinyls. His polymer paints offered the same viscosity as oil colors and much more permanence. These synthetic resin products proved superior in many chemical and physical properties to the traditional natural resins and became staples in the Weber product line. Then Weber developed the highly successful Weber “Res-N-Gel" Oil Painting Medium, which had characteristics so unique that it soon became one of F. Weber Co.‘s leading items. He also developed an odorless turpentine substitute. Equally reknown are the Weber synthetic resin varnishes, all water clear, marketed under the names of “Synvar,” “Univar," “Matvar,” and “Sphinx Re-touching Varnishes" and the firm’s "Blue Label" Pastel Fixatif.
For education, Weber attended Temple College, then went to Europe where he studied at the Art Academy of Art, Frankfurt-On-The-Main, and attended lectures at Heidelberg, Munich, and the Color Centers of Germany. At the time there were no courses available in the United States to give him the necessary training related to chemistry and physics of fine arts. After his return from Germany, previous to World War I, Weber attended studies in Chemistry at Drexel Institute and was a graduate of the Chemical Engineering Department of the University of Pennsylvania. He studied painting and etching at home and abroad, he embarked on a lifelong regimen of technical training that required unusual self-discipline. Into his retirement he still went into the laboratory three to four days a week.
In addition to the above training, he studied under Benjamin Osnis, then head of the Chase School of Painting, and with Paul Martel. He studied etching under Earl Horter. He was also Technical Advisor to Joseph Pennell, one of the greatest etchers and teachers of his time.
Weber served as a Government consultant on camouflage paints when the U.S entered the first World War. During the second World War his patriotic efforts took another turn. He organized the “Portraits of Warriors” project for the Stage Door Canteen in the basement of the Philadelphia Academy of Music. He and 29 other artists sketched the likenesses of servicemen. Weber alone, over a three-year period, drew 3,000 such portraits.
Weber is known for his portraits, impressionist Pennsylvania countryside landscapes and South Jersey shoreline and harbor scenes. This first hand knowledge of the artists’ needs played an important part in his great success as a color chemist and creator of new and improved products for fine arts. Weber never let a product go to market without testing it on the easel himself. In 1940 Weber made news when he crashed an oil show with his new synthetic resins. Weber entered into the Art Club's 46th Annual Exhibition with his 'self-portrait' painting, the result of three years of laboratory research using all synthetic resins, oils and varnishes.
Weber numbered among his friends many of the great names in American art of his time. All the Wyeths – N. C. through Jamie. George Bellows. Joseph Pennell. Thomas Hart Benson. Maxfield Parrish. He consulted Peter Hurd on color choice for Hurd’s portrait of L.B.J. Weber participated in numerous art associations and clubs. He was a lecturer, a consultant, Author of “Artists’ Pigments”, and charter member of the standing committee for the National Bureau of Standards for Artists Colors. He was a member and president of The Philadelphia Sketch Club, the oldest art club in the Country. He exhibited paintings representing the various painting techniques in many national juried shows, receiving many awards and honorable mentions. Among his best known works is a 6’ x 10’ foot mural “The Source of Light and Color” which hung in the Franklin Institute from 1935 to 1949.
President, Treasurer and Technical Director of F. Weber Co.
Pioneer Manufacturer and Artists’ Colormen in the U.S.A. since 1853.
Author of "Artists' Pigments - Their Chemical and Physical Properties” Published by Van Nostrand, New York.
President (1943) and Member (1935 to 1972) – Philadelphia Sketch Club.
Art Director and Critic on Philadelphia Record.
Member of Standing Committee, National Bureau of Standards CS 98-42.
Lecturer on the Techniques of Fine Arts Paintings:
Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts. 1936-1942.
Philadelphia Museum School of Art.
University of Pennsylvania School of Fine Arts.
Art Students League of New York. 1922-1936. exhibition entry
Corcoran School of Art, Washington, D.C. (now Corcoran College of Art and Design)
National Academy N.Y.C. (now National Academy Museum and School)
Yale School of Fine Arts. (now Yale School of Art)
University of California,
and many other art schools and Art Groups throughout the country.
Weber was a Mason and a member of the Rotary Club, Philadelphia Union League, and many art-related institutions.
Philadelphia Sketch Club.
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. his membership card
Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Philadelphia Art Alliance.
Art Teachers Association of Philadelphia.
Woodmere Art Gallery. (now Woodmere Art Museum) exhibition honorable mention
American Artists Professional League.
Chairman Artists Committee Stage Door Canteen. his Canteen artist card
Cape May County Art League.
The Print Club of Philadelphia. (American print clubs) his membership card
Pen and Pencil Club, Philadelphia.
Committee of Inter-Society Color Council.
The Union League of Philadelphia. his membership card
Exhibited paintings representing the various painting techniques in many national juried art shows; receiving awards and honorable mentions.
Painted 6’ x 10’ mural “Source of Light and Color”
in the Franklin Institute (1935-1949).
Born: December 1, 1890
Died: November 16, 1972
Weber's renown artist colleagues and friends:
Lila Oliver Asher
Francis (Pete) X. Boyle (1903 - 1967) PSC photo
Albert C. Barnes (1872 - 1951) (art collector) inscription 'For Fred W. Weber'
Walter Emerson Baum (1884 - 1956) article article
George Bellows (1882 - 1925)
Thomas Hart Benton (1889 - 1975)
John Steuart Curry (1897 - 1946) letter reference for book letter references
Gerald "Jerry" Aloysius Doyle Jr. (1898 - 1986) (Weber's closest friend)
Edith Emerson (1888 - 1981) letter
John H. Geiszel (1892 - 1973?74) article
Margaret (Peggy) Malpass Geiszel (1901 - ? )
Leonid Gechtoff (1883 - 1941)
W. Victor Guinness USMC article
Earl Horter (1880 - 1940)
Paul-Jean Martel (1879 - 1944)
T. Norman Mansell (1904 – 1991) article
Benedict Anton (B. A.) Osnis (1872 - 1941) portrait of Weber by Osnis
Maxfield Parrish (1870 - 1966) quote from Letter to F.W Weber, 1950
Joseph Pennell (1857 - 1926)
Henry Clarence Pitz (1895 - 1976) inscription 'For Fred Weber'
Edward C. Smith Jr. gift to Fred article obituary
Alice Kent Stoddard (1883 - 1976)
All the Wyeths – N. C. through Jamie, Andrew a particulary close friend.
He adviced many prominent 20th Century artists, including: Thomas Hart Benton, Dean Cornwell, Arthur Dove, Peter Hurd, Violet Oakley, Normal Rockwell, NC Wyeth and Andrew Wyeth.