Edmund Charles Tarbell (American, 1862-1938)
Peonies and Iris
Inscribed, signed, and dated "To David Blaney/Tarbell-26" l.r., identified on exhibition labels (see below) from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and The Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire, affixed to the frame backing board.
Oil on canvas, 28 7/8 x 24 in. (73.2 x 61.2 cm), in a signed and dated Thulin frame.
Condition: Minor canvas rippling, minor retouch to the background, dedication to David Blaney probably added at the time the work was presented in 1929.
Provenance: From the artist to fellow artist Dwight Blaney's son, David, as a wedding gift in 1929; then by descent within the Blaney family.
Literature: Trevor Fairbrother et al., The Bostonians: Painters of an Elegant Age, 1870-1930 (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1985), cat. no. 80, color illustration, p. 167; Susan Strickler et al., Impressionism Transformed: The Paintings of Edmund C. Tarbell (Manchester, New Hampshire: Currier Art Gallery, c. 2001), Plate 53 (color ill.) p. 145.
Exhibitions: The Bostonians: Painters of an Elegant Age, 1870-1930, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, June 11-September 14, 1986, The Denver Art Museum, October 25, 1986-January 19, 1987, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, March 13-May 10, 1987; Impressionism Transformed, The Paintings of Edmund C. Tarbell, Currier Art Gallery, Manchester, New Hampshire, October 13, 2001-January 13, 2002, Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, February 15-April 28, 2002, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, May 11-July 21, 2002.
N.B. Edmund Tarbell is considered the dean of Boston's painters at the turn of the 20th century. Tarbell taught at the influential School of the Museum of Fine Arts from 1889 until 1912, inspiring generations of young artists, dubbed "Tarbellites" by art critic Sadakichi Hartmann in 1897. Tarbell was one of the founding members of The Ten, and he co-founded the Guild of Boston Artists in 1914, serving as its first president. Later in his career he was Principal of the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC.
Boston School painters in the late 19th century were a congenial group, many teaching at the Museum School and visiting one another in the summer season at their family homes on the coasts of Maine and New Hampshire. The artists captured the season in paintings of family members enjoying the outdoors in brilliant sunshine (for Tarbell this included scenes of his children on horseback on the island of New Castle, New Hampshire). Dwight Blaney often entertained fellow artists at his summer home on Ironbound Island in Maine. Given this convivial atmosphere, it is not surprising that Tarbell would have been included in the wedding festivities for Dwight Blaney's son and would offer one of his paintings as a gift.
Tarbell was a celebrated portraitist and painter of landscapes and interior scenes. While still life paintings, as a specific genre, are somewhat more rare, Tarbell often created beautiful still lifes within his interior scenes, depicting flowers and fine objets d'art with the same elegance as the genteel figures that inhabited his sunlit rooms. Peonies were a perennial favorite, starring in his still lifes and arranged in vases in his interiors. The blue and white porcelain ginger jar, a nod to the love of Japanese art and culture, was an object that appeared in many works of this period.
Swedish-born framemaker and wood carver Walfred Thulin (1878-1949) came to America at the age of 22. He worked with Hermann Dudley Murphy until 1912, when he opened his own shop on Boylston Street in Boston, making frames for leading artists of the day until 1949.
Frame incised with mongram and date "19 [WT with a diamond shape] 24" and "Thulin" just below. Also incised with the number "#1663A."
Frame dimensions are 37 1/2 x 32 1/2 in. Bay State stretcher. Height of stretcher was augmented with 1/2 strips at top and bottom edges.
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