TARBELL, Edmund Charles
(b. 1862, West Groton, d. 1938, New Castle)


American painter, illustrator and teacher. He attended drawing lessons at the Normal Art School, Boston, MA, and art classes with W. A. G. Claus. From 1877 to 1880 he was apprenticed to a lithographic company in Boston. In 1879 Tarbell entered the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where he was a pupil of Otto Grundmann (1844-90), a former student of Baron Hendrik Leys in Antwerp.

In 1883 Tarbell left for Paris with his fellow student Frank W. Benson. Both Tarbell and Benson attended the Académie Julian, where they studied with Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefèbvre. They travelled to Italy in 1884 and to Italy, Belgium, Germany and Brittany the following year. Tarbell returned to Boston in 1886. Initially after his return, Tarbell made a living from magazine illustration, teaching privately and painting portraits. In 1889 Tarbell and Benson took Grundmann's place at the Museum School. Tarbell was a popular teacher, whose prominence was so marked that his students were called 'Tarbellites'. His teaching methods were traditional and academic: he required his pupils to render casts before they were allowed to paint. His motto was 'Why not make it like?', a query that shows his dedication to the model. He was professor at the School until 1912.

He had his first one-man show in 1891 in Boston. In 1893 he exhibited at the World Fair in Chicago. He had a big success at the World Fair in Paris in 1900. He was elected member of the National Academy in 1906. Between 1918 and 1926 he was director of the Corcoran School of Art in Washington.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.