Carl Magnus Oscar Friström (1856 – 26 June 1918), generally known as Oscar Fristrom, was a portrait painter and art teacher born in Sweden, who had a substantial career in Queensland and South Australia, and was best known for his depictions of Aboriginal Australians. Fristrom did a number of Aboriginal portraits and paintings.
Fristrom was born a son of C. Friström of Sweden, and may have come to Australia as a sailor. He worked for a time in Hutchison's Elite Photographic Studios in Queen Street, Brisbane before taking up painting as a full-time occupation.
He was largely self-taught, but his second oil painting was of sufficient merit to be shown at the 1886 Brisbane Exhibition.
He was, with L. W. K. Wirth, James Laurence Watts, and Walter Jenner, in 1888 a founding member of the Queensland Art Society. This led to R. Godfrey Rivers working for the foundation of the Queensland National Art Gallery.
He left for Adelaide in September 1893, where he found employment with Fritz & Co. photographic studio, and in November was accepted as a member of the Adelaide Easel Club. While in Adelaide, Fristrom painted and sketched portraits of well-known Adelaide identity, Aboriginal man Poltpalingada Booboorowie. In August 1894 an exhibition of oil portraits by Fristrom was mounted at the "Easel Clubroom" at 62, Rundle Street in Adelaide.
He returned to Brisbane in September 1894.
The Society of Artists went into decline around 1901. In 1904 a new Society of Artists was formed; meetings were held in Fristrom's studio in "Oakden Chambers", Queen Street. Fristrom was its president at the time of his death, as well as a member of the advisory board of the Queensland National Art Gallery.
Oscar married Caroline Rooke (1865 – 17 July 1948) of Breakfast Creek, Queensland; in 1911 they settled at Mooloolah, Queensland, later moved to Caloundra, then 52 Wharf Street, Brisbane. She was well known as a musician and music teacher. They had two children:
Oscar had a brother Edward Friström, also an artist in Brisbane, and from 1903 in New Zealand. He married Margaret Johnston of South Brisbane in July 1886; they had a daughter Olivia, a promising pianist, and a son. Another brother, Tage Edward Friström, a member of the US Voluntary Infantry, was killed in 1898 fighting Spain in Manila.
Dying on 26 June 1918, his funeral moved from the funeral parlour of John Hislop & Sons to the South Brisbane Cemetery.
In 1905 Fristrom sculpted a bust of Augustus Charles Gregory, an explorer and first Surveyor-General of Queensland. In February 1906, Fristrom offered to sell the bust to the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland but the society decided not to buy it; however, they did display it at an event in June 1906. For many years the bust was displayed at Freemasons’ Gregory Lodge in Cairns (Gregory being depicted wearing his Masonic regalia). In 2018, the Freemasons donated the bust to the Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying in Brisbane. As at 10 March 2020, the bust is at the entrance of the museum.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Oscar Fristrom.|