51

EDMUND CHARLES TARBELL

American, 1862-1938

Peonies, 1927

oil on canvas
signed lower right "Tarbell"
28 x 38 inches

  • Provenance: Vose Galleries, Boston, Massachusetts; Property from a distinguished American collection.
  • Exhibited: Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, "Special Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Frank W. Benson and the Late Edmund Tarbell," November 16 - December 15, 1938; Orlando, Florida, Orlando Museum of Art, "Hidden Treasures: American Paintings from Florida Private Collections," January 4 - February 23, 1992; Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Brandywine River Museum, "Flower Painting, An American Tradition," June 2 - September 9, 1994.
  • Literature: Patricia J. Pierce (ed.), "Edmund C. Tarbell and the Boston School of Painting," (Hingham, Massachusetts: Pierce Galleries, 1980), p. 147 (illustrated).

    Framed dimensions: 35 x 44 3/4 x 2 1/2 inches


    Edmund Charles Tarbell, as both a teacher and painter, was a leading influence in the development of the Boston School and a founding member of the celebrated American Art group "The Ten." Tarbell, born in West Groton, Massachusetts, spent his life in New England. As a young artist, he lived in Boston teaching at the Museum School and painting portraits in his own unique Impressionist style. He quickly became a success and in 1905 moved with his family to suburban New Castle, New Hampshire.

    When Tarbell was fifteen he was sent to live in Boston with his grandparents. When his grandfather died in 1877, his mother and step-father returned to Boston to care for Tarbell and his step-sister, Nellie. In Boston he took a job at a lithography firm and began to take art classes at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School as a student of Otto Grundman. There he met Frank Benson and Robert Reid, later fellow organizers of "The Ten." From 1884-1886, Tarbell traveled through Europe with Benson, Reid and Abbott Fuller Graves studying at the Académie Julian and visiting Venice.

    Upon his return to the United States, Tarbell sought out William Merritt Chase in New York who at the time was president of the Society of American Artists. Tarbell joined the Society and was an exhibiting member. In 1898, he was a founding member of "The Ten," a group of artists including John Henry Twachtman, J. Alden Weir and Childe Hassam, who resigned from the Society.

    In Boston, he taught at the Boston Museum School becoming head of the department in 1890 and for the next twenty-three years. Following his resignation in 1913, Tarbell founded the Guild of Boston Artists. In 1918, Tarbell was chosen to direct the Corcoran School of Art. He spent seven years in D.C., where he was commissioned to paint President Woodrow Wilson among others before retiring to New Hampshire.

    In New Hampshire, Tarbell frequently painted the pink and white peonies that were abundant in his flower garden. Tarbell's peony paintings may resemblel the peonies painted by Édouard Manet that Tarbell would have seen as a young student artist in Paris during the 1880s. The peacock on the screen in the background may reference the flowers' association with Asian art. Peonies were Tarbell's favorite flower and the subject of several still-life canvases.

    Tarbell's influence on the Boston Impressionists cannot be overstated. His students and many of his colleagues were termed "Tarbellites." They followed his high standards in technique and in his preference for genteel subjects attracting American collectors who had previously favored European artists.

    Tarbell's paintings are included in numerous public and private collections and he is considered an influential figure in American art history. His paintings can be viewed at the National Gallery of Art in D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.


    Tags: listed artist, oil painting, floral, 20th century, still life, American Impressionism, the Ten
  • Condition: overall excellent condition; strip lined canvas; a few varnish inconsistencies apparent under UV; very minor restoration; in a period Spanish frame

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