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Edmund C Tarbell (1862-1938)

Edmund C Tarbell

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Edmund Charles Tarbell, an American Impressionist painter, was born on April 26, 1862 in West Groton, Massachusetts.  Tarbell was a member of The Ten American Painters.  His work is is held by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery and the National Academy of Design, among others. 

During his youth, Tarbell attended drawing classes with George H. Bartlett at the Massachusetts Norman Art School.  At the age of 15, he apprenticed at the Forbes Lithographic Company in Boston.  In 1879, Tarbell enrolled at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he studied under Frederick Crowninshield and German expatriate painter, Otto Grundmann.  In 1883, Edmund C. Tarbell continued his education in Paris, France at the Académie Julian.  Here he studied under Gustave Boulanger and Jules-Joseph Lefebvre.  Here he was exposed to academic training, which included copying Old Master paintings at the Louvre Museum, and the Impressionist movement. 

In 1889, Edmund C. Tarbell assumed the position of former mentor, Otto Grundmann, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  His influence on Boston painting was so pervasive that his followers were dubbed “The Tarbellites.”  During this time he turned increasingly to Impressionism, specializing in colorful portrayals of genteel young women in outdoor sunlight.  His 1891 painting, In the Orchard established his reputation as an important American modernist.  Edmund C. Tarbell’s paintings exhibited at such prestigious Boston venues as the St. Botolphe Club and the Boston Guild of Artists.  Realizing the importance of artistic and critical exposure in New York City, he subsequently exhibited at the Society of American Artists and the National Academy of Design.

In 1898, Tarbell was invited to join The Ten American Painters.  This group consisted primarily of Impressionist-inspired artists, such as J.H. Twachtman and J.A. Weir, and was formed in reaction against the large, stylistically-diverse exhibitions of the Society of American Artists.  Tarbell exhibited with the group until its disbandment in 1918.

His later works show the influence of 17th century Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer.  These works typically portray genteel figures in Colonial Revival interiors.  In 1918, Tarbell moved to Washington D.C., where he assumed the directorship of the Corcoran School of Art.  While in the capitol, Tarbell created portraits of U.S. presidents Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. 

In 1925, Edmund C. Tarbell retired to his summer home in New Castle, New Hampshire, where he remained an active painter until his death on August 1, 1938.

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