Frank von der Lancken was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1872, and studied art there at the newly-opened Pratt Institute. The curriculum at this new school sprang out of the Arts and Crafts movement sweeping America in the late nineteenth century, an approach that stressed a return to simplicity and sound workmanship.
After his solid grounding at Pratt, followed by study at the Art Students League, New York, and the requisite two years of training in Paris, von der Lancken returned to America and became a much-admired and influential teacher. He appears to have had little interest in selling his work, and, though celebrated for his influence on others, von der Lancken was a gifted painter in his own right. The restraint and good taste of his technique was evident not only in portraits and still lifes, but especially in the fine landscapes that form the heart of his oeuvre.