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Tarbell was, like Edgar Degas and John Singer Sargent, essentially an academic painter who adopted the free brushstrokes of the Impressionists. The bold surface treatment of the canvas was imposed on a strict draftsmanship that emphasized stereometric values, which had been crucial to Victorian academic painters engaged in a complicated conversation with photography.
This very distinct movement in painting has been generally overlooked in the schematic oversimplifications of art history, which wants to assign artists to crude categories in a narrative which sees academic painting supplanted by Impressionism supplanted by Expressionism. It’s a narrative that only exists in books and in the minds of museum curators.
Rainy Day, Queens, 1931.
My friend Jae Song turned me on to this guy — he did brilliant work. Why have I never heard of him before? Why are there no books that collect his prints — just a catalogue raisonné with tiny reference reproductions?
This image owes something to Caillebotte’s Jour de Pluie à Paris of 1877:
Retour de Bal, 1879.
Not a successful outing, as outings go.
This painting was refused admission to the Salon of 1878 on the grounds of indecency — quite rightly, I think. Degas had convinced his friend Gervex to show the lady's discarded corset on the chair beside her, which didn't help.
Truth Escaping From the Well, 1898, an allegory in support of Dreyfus.