And the little less, and what worlds away!
~ Robert Browning, By the Fireside
A Short Bio
Edmund C. Tarbell (called Ned as a boy), was born at West Groton, Massachusetts in 1868 and raised by his paternal grandparents. 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 and because of his natural talent entered the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, studying under Otto Grundmann. He matriculated in the same class with two other future members of the Ten American Painters, Robert Reid and Frank Weston Benson.
In 1883, his fellow student Benson and Edmund Tarbell continued their studies in Paris as pupils of Lefebvre and Boulanger. What this exactly means is more thoroughly discussed in the blog on Cecilia Beaux' experience at l'Academie Julian. To summarize, Lefebvre and Boulanger would come in once a week, pause momentarily at each student's easel to say a few words, and then rattle away in their carriage till the following week.
(This - I think - is not an entirely bad thing although it is not the type of education that we are used to. It provides space for the student to develop his own critical processes using the principles that his teacher sets briefly before him. This takes a fair amount of self-motivation and effort, and requires the student to be fully engaged with his lessons.)
The most valuable painting instruction which Tarbell received in Paris was in an afternoon painting class taught by William Dannat who had first studied in Munich then under Bastien-Lepage.
Tarbell studied in Europe about five years, then returned to Boston where he married and joined the teaching staff of the Museum School in Boston - along with his friend Frank Benson. When the director, Otto Grundmann, died unexpectedly the following summer, Tarbell and Benson took full charge of what had become a nationally renowned art school. It was to flourish under their direction for twenty-three years.
Tarbell was a popular teacher. He gave his pupils a solid academic art training. Before they learned to paint, they had to render plaster casts of classical statues. So pervasive was his influence on Boston painting that his followers were dubbed "The Tarbellites."
After he left the school in 1913, he co-founded The Guild of Boston Artists, and served as its first president through 1924. In 1919, he was selected as principal of the art school at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC which he led until 1926. In 1927, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
"Making It More Like"
This phrase was Edmund Tarbell's motto and one of the sayings passed down to the students of RH Ives Gammell. It refers to part of the methodology used by Boston School painters. As they begin their work, theyand more right...and more right!
* Mr. Gammell's Vocab Word of the Day: Preprandial - Done or taken before dinner or before the main course, ex. a preprandial glass of sherry
** When Earth's Last Picture Is Painted, 1892 by Rudyard Kipling
When Earth's last picture is paint...ed and the tubes are twisted and dried,
When the oldest colours have faded, and the youngest critic has died,
We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it -- lie down for an aeon or two,
Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall put us to work anew.
And those that were good shall be happy; they shall sit in a golden chair;
They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comets' hair.
They shall find real saints to draw from -- Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;
They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!
And only The Master shall praise us, and only The Master shall blame;
Andd no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame,
But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,