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Showing posts from 2017

Tarbell, The Quiet Master

A Girl Crocheting, 1904

Edmund Charles Tarbell was born on April 26, 1862 in northern Massachusetts. Tarbell studied in Boston and trained in Paris under Jules Joseph Lefebvre where he learned the Academic rigors of Classicism in the late 1800's, and while studying in the museums he was also inspired by the French painters of Impressionism. This new approach to color and light would have a profound influence on his work. Tarbell would synthesize this soft brushwork with his Classical training into his own distinctive aesthetic of mood, light and silence while capturing his American era. While most of his contemporaries painted both in plein air and interiors, Tarbell painted mostly quiet interiors with pensive women that is unique in that his brushwork is breathtaking.

In A Girl Crocheting above, Tarbell uses a dimly-lit window as his light source for a woman crocheting. Note the loose copy of Velázquez's Portrait of Innocent X on the wall. Her chair seems to echo similar ornat…

Joseph DeCamp, Impressionist Poet

The Cellist, 1908

Joseph DeCamp was an American painter born in Cincinnati, Ohio on November 5, 1858. Having studied in Europe he returned to America where he worked under the Boston School with artists such as William McGregor Paxton, Edmund C. Tarbell and John Joseph Enneking among others. Later on he would form a group of American Impressionists known as the Ten American Painters, including artists such as Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, John Henry Twachtman, and once again Edmund C. Tarbell. DeCamp's work is characterized by the Tonalism of predominantly women in deep shadows, vibrant color, elegant body language and pensive mood.

In The Cellist above, DeCamp's palette is monochromatic yet he makes effective use of highlight and texture to convey his mood. Dry brush and warms illuminate the wall behind her, where the shadow side has traces of violet scumbled on top of grey and yellow tones while the bright side is smoky white. This technique continues along the shoulder an…

William McGregor Paxton, American Master

In the Studio, 1905



Born on June 22, 1869, William McGregor Paxton was an American painter from Baltimore. Paxton was a founding member of the Boston School from the early 1900's, which drew its inspiration from Impressionism with an emphasis on both the landscape and the upper-class society of Boston. Paxton's prestigious training included working under Jean-Léon Gérôme and Joseph DeCamp, leading him to teach at the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston, where he met a student and future wife, Elizabeth Okie Paxton. His style was deeply influenced by Vermeer and he often paints interiors with soft, dramatic light. Paxton was a poet in the way he captured the elegance and grace of women in his era.

Looking at In the Studio above, Paxton portrays himself and the model as subjects bathed in warm afternoon sunlight coming from a window. I love the reflection of the glowing fireplace shimmering across the floor. Paxton creates depth by composing the model in the foreground with him…

The Polish Classicist

Christian Dirce, 1897

Henryk Siemiradzki was a Polish Academic painter born on October 24, 1843. After studying painting in Russia and Munich he moved to Rome in his late twenties, where he would be known for his very large-scale paintings that rival Rubens in terms of sheer size. Siemiradzki (pronounced ShimiRADski) like many of his Russian-educated contemporaries, had a genius for multiple figure arrangement and use of natural light. Siemiradzki's attention to architectural and natural detail appears astounding from a distance, yet the way he paints detail is actually suggestive and emphasizes the appearance of texture over intricate detail.

In Christian Dirce above, Siemiradzki depicts a scene from Greek mythology portrayed in the Roman arena about Dirce, wife of the ancient ruler of Thebes, martyred by being tied to the horns of a bull. In this instance, by the title of the painting, it is a Christian woman being martyred in the same fashion as Dirce. Note the elaborate costume…