Fredric Mueller, the subject of this portrait, is perhaps best known through his association with Arne Glimcher as a one-time partner in New York's Pace Gallery, an affiliation that began when the gallery moved from Boston to New York in 1963. Fredric was a Harvard graduate and longtime collector. At the early age of seventeen he began collecting oriental bronzes, ceramics, and furniture--later as a private dealer he began to collect wonderful works by Dubuffet and a cast of other Post-War artists. Art was the central focus of his life and as such collecting defined his very existence.
Neel's portrait of Fredric is an exceptional work of intense observation and study. As in all of her best work it is apparent that Neel scrutinized every detail of Mueller's being under an intense gaze she saw beyond the physical and captured the sitter's character and in some metaphysical sense, his aura. Such bold coloring is rare in a Neel portrait and these large colorful passages help to draw attention to the tight rendering within Mueller's face, extraordinary in its nearly sculpted angular features. Equally impressive and effective is the use of the blue outline and scumbling around the upper body creating a dancing line of frenetic energy and halo of atmosphere, a sublime passage on which the eye can rest.