National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Mother and Mary Edmund Charles Tarbell (artist)
American, 1862 - 1938
Mother and Mary, 1922
oil on canvas
overall: 112.1 x 127.5 cm (44 1/8 x 50 3/16 in.) framed: 130.8 x 146.1 cm (51 1/2 x 57 1/2 in.)
Gift of the Belcher Collection, Stoughton, Massachusetts
Not on View
From the Tour: American Impressionists of the Late 1800s and Early 1900s
Object 6 of 7

A feisty, aggressive man, Edmund Charles Tarbell had such control over a group of followers at the Boston Museum school that critics nicknamed them "the Tarbellite gang." Tarbell also commanded respect later in Washington, D.C., when he served as principal at the Corcoran Gallery's School of Art from 1918 to 1925. His insistence upon precise draftsmanship resulted from his teenaged apprenticeship to a lithographic company and his academic studies in Boston and Paris.

Unlike the bravura sketchiness and vivid colors preferred by his friend Frank Benson, Tarbell emphasized solid, three-dimensional forms. To challenge himself by painting interior and exterior light in the same composition, Tarbell often depicted the tall French windows at his summer home in New Castle, New Hampshire. In Mother and Mary, the rectangular shapes of these windows as well as of the picture frames and wall moldings are played against the curving lines of the Chippendale chairs, oval gate-leg table, and tranquil figures of the artist's youngest daughter Mary, pausing at her writing desk, and his wife Emeline, occupied by her sewing.

The Colonial Revival decor mixes furniture styles by using both antiques and reproductions. Criss-crossed over the polished floor, long brushstrokes imitate the luster of reflected sunlight and reveal the marks of hand buffing on the freshly waxed wood.

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Artist Information
Exhibition History

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