Pierre-Edouard Frere was born in Paris in 1819, and the younger brother of the Orientalist painter Theodore Frere (1814-1888). At the age of seventeen he entered the Ecole de Beaux-Arts where he studied under the direction of Paul Delaroche. Based in Ecouen, he exhibited regularly at the Salon in Paris from 1842 to 1886, and at the Royal Academy in London from 1868 to 1885, and won several medals over the course of his career.
Pierre-Edouard Frere is known mainly for his domestic scenes, depicting daily life in the country. He specialized in small-scale genre paintings in warm colours, painting scenes of children at play and family life. Executing his paintings in a meticulous yet painterly manner, Frere used delicate brushstrokes to diffuse the contours of his subjects, giving the works a softness characteristic of his style.
An exhibition in London in 1854 organized by dealer Ernest Gambert, lead artist and critic John Ruskin to Frere’s work, which he very much admired, writing: “I cannot tell how I am ever to say what I want to say about Frere’s pictures. I can find no words tender enough, nor reverend enough. They are all beauty without consciousness; dignity without pride; lowliness without sorrow; and religion without fear.”
Pierre-Edouard Frere died in Ecouen in 1886.