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Edmund Charles Tarbell

Edmund Charles Tarbell was an American Impressionist painter who was a largely influential instructor and painter for Boston painters in the late nineteenth century. His life began on April 26, 1862, in West Groton, Massachusetts where he was raised by his grandparents. He started with an aptitude for drawing and began an apprenticeship at the Forbes Lithographic Company at the age of fifteen. By eighteen, he attended the Boston Museum School and continued on to attend Academic Julian in Paris in 1884. There he was under the tutelage of Jules-Joseph Lefebvre (1836-1911) and Adolphe William Bouguereau (1825-1888), to name a few. In 1886, he returned to the United States to open a studio in Boston. There he began illustrating for a local magazine and took commissions for portraits. After two years, he began teaching at the Boston Museum School where he would become the head of the painting department in 1890. He remained there for the next twenty-three years. Over time, Tarbell’s teachings created a following of like-minded students and colleagues who shadowed his style, using genteel subjects for their artwork and maintained high standards of execution and detail. These admirers developed the label of the “Tarbellites.”

Due to his exquisite eye for detail and style, Tarbell was highly sought after with the higher class, receiving commissions from President Woodrow Wilson and Marshall Ferdinand Foch. After holding a position as the director of Corcoran School of Art at the George Washington University for seven years, Edmund Charles Tarbell retired to New Castle, New Hampshire in 1926. He passed away in 1938 after receiving many awards and achievements such as being a founder and president of the Guild of Boston Artists and a member of The Ten.

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