Edmund Charles Tarbell, The Blue Veil, 1898
Oil on canvas, 29 x 24 in. (73.7 x 61 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of Henry K.S. Williams, 1942.26
As the title makes clear, Tarbell's painting is not about his sitter. Rather, it is a painting of her veil, which has been caught by a breeze and flows around her face and shoulders in sheer folds and waves. Throughout his life and career, Tarbell was both praised and criticized for his single-minded commitment to beauty. In response to his critics, he said, "Art should render the beauty of the thing seen.” Edmund Tarbell was one of the most acclaimed artists in Boston at the turn of the century. Raised in West Groton, Massachusetts, his artistic talent was recognized when he enrolled as an art student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where he was made the head of painting at just 27 years old. Tarbell adopted an impressionist style after completing his studies in Boston and Paris. By the 1890s, he became a founding member of the Ten, a group at the forefront of American Impressionism.
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