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Thursday, 10 December 2009

Edmund Tarbell (1862-1938)

                             Edmund C. Tarbell
By Alexandra A. Jopp
Edmund Tarbell was renowned for his elegant, pearly interiors as well as vivacious outdoor paintings of his family.

Mother and Mary, 1922

Edmund Tarbell was an American painter who won numerous prizes and medals and experimented with a range of forms of plein air painting. An extraordinary talent with the brush, he was inspired by seventeenth-century Dutch traditions and was especially fond of Vermeer. His environment was his own, and his wife and four children served as his models. He specialized in delicately finished, pearly interiors, and he devoted a significant part of his career to capturing images of young women pursuing domestic activities such as sewing or reading in elegantly decorated domestic rooms filled with antiquarian or oriental objects.

Mercie Cutting Flowers , 1912  

Schooling the Horses, 1902

Born in 1862 in West Groton, Mass., Tarbell spent most of his youth in Dorchester, Mass. He received his early training from George Bartlett at the Massachusetts Normal Art School. He worked in the Forbes Lithographic Company of Boston and took drawing classes before entering the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 1879. After graduation, he went to Paris with several of his classmates to study at the prestigious Académie Julian with Louis Boulanger and Jules Joseph Lefebvre. During this time, he studied the art of the great masters and traveled through London, Brussels, Antwerp, Cologne, Munich and Venice.

Tarbell returned to the United States in 1888 and married Emeline Arnold Souther of Dorchester, who served as a romantic inspiration for his portrait and genre paintings. In 1889, he became an instructor at Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and in 1891, he held his first exhibition with friend Frank Weston Benson at the St. Botolph Club in Boston. This same year, he painted In the Orchard, which established his reputation as a brilliant artist especially skilled at producing Impressionist scenes of figures in the out-of-doors. In 1898, became one of the founding members of The Ten, a group of American painters associated with Impressionism.

In the Orchard, 1891

In the following years, Tarbell turned more to light-filled indoor scenes, reminiscent of Edgar Degas, and closely studied the works of Jan Vermeer. Tarbell’s style draws on Vermeer’s taste for the intangible beauty of tranquil domesticity found in images of women writing, reading or playing a musical instrument. In Girl Reading (1909), for example, Tarbell creates a solemn mood of high art that is shaped by formal emulation of seventeenth-century Dutch traditions. Art critic Charles Caffin wrote that Tarbell's pictures are “at once an expression of the beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty.”1

Girl Reading 1909

In 1926, Tarbell retired to his vacation home in New Castle, N.H. He died there on Aug. 1, 1938.

Mother And Child In A Boat, 1892

1 comment:

  1. Great comments on a great artist.