Edmund Charles Tarbell was born in the Asa Tarbell House, which stands beside the Squannacook River in West Groton, Massachusetts. His father, Edmund Whitney Tarbell, died in 1863 after contracting typhoid fever while
serving in the Civil War. His mother, Mary Sophia (Fernald) Tarbell, remarried a shoemaking-machine manufacturer. Young “Ned” (as he was nicknamed) and his older sister, Nellie Sophia, were left to be raised by their paternal
grandparents in Groton, a frontier town during the French and Indian Wars that the early Tarbell family helped settle.

As a youth, Tarbell took evening art lessons from George H. Bartlett at the Massachusetts Normal Art School. Between 1877 and 1880, he apprenticed at the Forbes Lithographic Company in Boston. In 1879, he entered the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, studying under Otto Grundmann. He matriculated in the same class with Robert Reid and Frank Weston Benson, two other future members of the Ten American Painters.

Tarbell was encouraged to continue his education in Paris, France, then center of the art world. Consequently, in 1883 he entered the Académie Julian to study under Gustave Boulanger and Jules-Joseph Lefebvre. Paris exposed him to
rigorous academic training, which invariably included copying Old Master paintings at the Louvre Museum, but also to the Impressionist movement then sweeping the city’s galleries. That duality would inform his work. In 1884,
Tarbell’s education included a Grand Tour to Italy, and the following year to Italy, Belgium, Germany and Brittany. Tarbell returned to Boston in 1886, where he began his career as an illustrator, private art instructor and portrait painter.

While Tarbell is best remembered as the leader of the Boston School or “Tarbellite” painters, his heart was very much devoted not to Boston, but to the coastal village of New Castle, New Hampshire. Tarbell was first introduced to the quaint fishing community along the Piscataqua River when he and his wife honeymooned there in 1888. Captivated by the coastal landscape and colonial architecture that also attracted Childe Hassam and Alfred Bricher, Tarbell soon began to travel up from his suburban home in Dorchester, Massachusetts, to spend his summers by the water. By 1894, he was teaching summer courses there with Frank Benson in addition to instructing at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and had made New Castle his primary home by 1906.

Tarbell had first met Frank Benson when they studied together as teenagers at the Boston School of the Museum of Fine Arts under Otto Grundmann, and their friendship was cemented in 1883 when they both traveled to Paris to
enroll in the Académie Julian. Fifteen years later, the two artists, along with such figures as Joseph DeCamp and John Twachtman, founded a group which they entitled “The Ten.” Consisting of painters who had seceded from the
Society of American Artists in protest to the lessening standards of the club, the group exhibited their Impressionist works in numerous New York Galleries between the years of 1898 and 1919.

Tarbell’s presence in the Boston Museum School was long felt, but in 1912 he left his position as co-director and with Frank Benson formed the Guild of Boston Artists in 1914. In 1918 he became the Director of the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC. His accomplishments continued on over the course of his career to include
exhibiting internationally at the Paris Salon as well as nationally at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the National Academy of Design, with his works earning a number of medals and awards. His success as a portraitist also spurred such important commissions as portraits of Presidents Hoover and Wilson, but he is best remembered for his thoughtful depictions of women caught up in their domestic tasks, and dappled with sparkling sunlight.

In 1926, Tarbell retired to his New Castle home, the setting for some of his best known interior scenes and
landscapes. During his career both at the Boston Museum School and the Corcoran School of Art, New Castle had remained an important subject for his oils. Tarbell had added a simple studio to the property in 1907, with a deck stretching out over the riverbank, and by this time, the family was spending up to 8 months out of each year in New Castle, with Tarbell commuting via the Portsmouth train to Boston. The Dock, New Castle, New Hampshire focuses on the riverbank beyond this studio, yet Tarbell approached such landscapes in much the same manner as he did his acclaimed figurative works. He was able to create an object of imminent beauty out of a common, everyday subject.

The majority of the paintings shown are on loan from the Tarbell Charitable Trust. The Trust, established by the late Daniel W.B. Tarbell, of New Castle, NH, was formed to preserve and make available, for public enjoyment and
education, his personal collection of paintings, drawings and preparatory sketches left to him by his grandfather,
Edmund C. Tarbell.

*“Edmund Tarbell: A New England Painter and the Family that Inspired Him,” Art and Antiques, Jan. 1993.
References: Impressionism Transformed: The Paintings of Edmund C. Tarbell. The Currier Gallery of Art, 2001.

 

Self-Portrait thumbnail
Margery and Daniel thumbnail
Mary and New Castle Poppy, 1925-26 thumbnail
Mary, Edmund and Sergius, 1920 thumbnail
Still Life with Irises an Blue Jar thumbnail
Portrait of Henry Clay Frick thumbnail
Still Life with Roses and Two Jars thumbnail
Margery, Edmund and Little Daniel, 1935 thumbnail
DrawingYoungWoman-500 thumbnail
Young Woman in Profile thumbnail
Judge John Wilkes Hammond thumbnail
Painting Class at the Academie Julian, Paris, 1883 thumbnail
Going for a Ride, 1912 thumbnail
The Pink Bow thumbnail
Early Shore Scene, 1883 thumbnail
Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862-1938)

Oil/c
14 1/4 x 12 1/4
NFS
Private Collection

Margery and Daniel

Margery and Daniel

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862 - 1938)

Courtesy of the Tarbell Charitable Trust

Mary and New Castle Poppy, 1925-26

Mary and New Castle Poppy, 1925-26

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862 - 1938)

Charcoal Study
18 x 10 1/2
NFS
Courtesy of the Tarbell Charitable Trust

Mary, Edmund and Sergius, 1920

Mary, Edmund and Sergius, 1920

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862 - 1938)

Oil/c
50 x 30 1/2
NFS
Courtesy of the Tarbell Charitable Trust

Still Life with Irises an Blue Jar

Still Life with Irises an Blue Jar

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862 - 1938)

Oil/c
30 x 25
NFS
Courtesy of the Tarbell Charitable Trust

Portrait of Henry Clay Frick

Portrait of Henry Clay Frick

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862 - 1938)

Oil/c
25 x 19
NFS
Courtesy of the Tarbell Charitable Trust

Still Life with Roses and Two Jars

Still Life with Roses and Two Jars

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862 - 1938)

Oil/c
21 x 25
NFS
Courtesy of the Tarbell Charitable Trust

Margery, Edmund and Little Daniel, 1935

Margery, Edmund and Little Daniel, 1935

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862 - 1938)

Oil/c
40 1/2 x 50 1/2
NFS
Courtesy of the Tarbell Charitable Trust

DrawingYoungWoman-500

DrawingYoungWoman-500

Edmund C. Tarbell (1832 - 1938)

Charcoal & Pencil
7 3/4 x 10 in., NFS
Courtesy of the Tarbell Charitable Trust

Young Woman in Profile

Young Woman in Profile

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862 - 1938) Etching 6 x 4 1/4, $900 Courtesy of John Hagan Fine Art

Judge John Wilkes Hammond

Judge John Wilkes Hammond

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862 - 1938)

Oil
59 x 50 3/4, NFS
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Superior Judicial Court

Painting Class at the Academie Julian, Paris, 1883

Painting Class at the Academie Julian, Paris, 1883

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862 - 1938)

Oil
14 x 18 in, NFS
Private Collection

Going for a Ride, 1912

Going for a Ride, 1912

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862 - 1938)

Oil
38 x 42, NFS
Courtesy of the Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Rosse

The Pink Bow

The Pink Bow

Oil/c 27 x 20 1/2 NFS Private Collection

Early Shore Scene, 1883

Early Shore Scene, 1883

Edmund C. Tarbell (1832 - 1938)

Oil/c
14 x 20
NFS
Courtesy of the Tarbell Charitable Trust

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862 – 1938) & The Boston School

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