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Illuminating Tarbell: Life and Art on the Piscataqua

March 4 - June 3, 2016


Renowned American Impressionist painter Edmund C. Tarbell is back. The most ambitious display of Tarbell's vibrant work in a decade opened March 4, 2016 at Discover Portsmouth. The city's popular welcome center and gallery began its 2016 season a month early to honor one of the region's most beloved and influential artists. (right: Edmund C. Tarbell (1862-1938), An Opal, A Study of Yellow and White Light, 1891, on canvas, 35 x 30 inches. Private collection)

Illuminating Tarbell is a unique two-part show, with the largest local gathering of Tarbell's original work, plus a companion gallery featuring six contemporary painters working in the Tarbell style. Running through Friday June 3, 2016 the dual exhibit also includes a lecture series, a 72-page color catalogue, and a re-creation of Tarbell's seaside New Castle, NH studio.

"This is a must-see show," says Portsmouth Historical Society Executive Director, Kathleen Soldati. "While many know Tarbell as a Boston artist, he had close ties to the Portsmouth region. We're bringing in works from collections all across the country, and many have never been exhibited to the public before."

Edmund C. Tarbell (1862-1938) was a pioneer of the "Boston School" of painting at the Museum of Fine Arts. His work, evocative of 17th-century Dutch artists, is known for its rich hues and an emphasis on light and tone and delicate brushwork. Unlike previous exhibitions of Tarbell's work, Discover Portsmouth's show will emphasize, not just his paintings, but engravings, drawings, and oil studies. When shown in conjunction with a careful selection of the finished oil paintings, these will demonstrate Tarbell's process from conception to completion.

Illuminating Tarbell: Life and Art on the Piscataqua, the primary exhibition by curator Jeremy Fogg, fills the first floor of the Academy Gallery in a beautifully restored 1810-era building located in downtown Portsmouth. The show features nearly 60 works from the artist's 30 years living along the Piscataqua River. This unique display captures Tarbell's vision of his family, their friends, clients, even horses, as well as the river and the surrounding landscape. The exhibit and accompanying catalogue also document Tarbell's life and art with family photographs, personal letters, and ephemera. A meticulous reconstruction of his studio includes cherished family furniture and studio props.



A fully illustrated catalogue, published by the organization's Portsmouth Marine Society Press, contains essays by curators Jeremy Fogg and Alastair Dacey. The catalogue features an introduction by Susan Strickler, director of the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH, and a new study of Tarbell's life in New Castle by artist Christopher Volpe.


(above: Edmund C. Tarbell (1862-1938), Emeline Souther Tarbell in a New Castle, New Hampshire, Garden, ca. 1884-88, Oil on canvas board, 12 x 8 inches, Pierce Galleries Nantucket, MA)


Companion exhibition

Illuminating Tarbell: Legacy in Action, the companion show, is located upstairs in the Academy balcony gallery. Curator Alastair Dacey makes the case for Tarbell's ongoing influence as a painter and teacher. Tarbell's impact and artistic principles are revealed in close to 50 works by six contemporary painters: Don Demers, Paul Ingbretson, Jean Lightman, Mary Minifie, Colin Page, and Alastair Dacey.


About the Curators

Illuminating Tarbell: Life and Art on the Piscataqua:

Jeremy G. Fogg, of South Berwick, Maine, is a painting conservator and manager of Anthony Moore Painting Conservation in York. He is also a private art researcher, collector, and independent curator. Fogg has conserved and restored dozens of Tarbell paintings, and has an intimate knowledge of their construction and unique characteristics. Over the years he has worked closely with the family to further study and preserve the Tarbell legacy.

Illuminating Tarbell: Legacy in Action:

Alastair Dacey is a fine art painter living in New Castle and working in Portsmouth, NH. His artistic training spanned seven years, beginning at the Rhode Island School of Design. Dacey also studied at the Ingbretson Studio of Drawing and Painting and Cecil Studios in Florence, Italy. Focusing on portraiture and figurative work, Dacey has been a professional for ten years, fulfilling notable commissions and winning awards regionally and nationally for his work. He has had studios in Boston, New York, San Antonio, and Mexico.


(above: Edmund C. Tarbell (1862-1938), My Family at Cotuit, ca. 1900, Oil on canvas, 25 x 30 inches. Collection of the Tarbell Charitable Trust.)



Lecture Series

A series of presentations from March through May, 2016 expands upon Illuminating Tarbell: Life and Art on the Piscataqua's focus on the life and works of Edmund Tarbell and the local character of his work.

March 17 - Laurene Buckley

March 31 - William H. Gerdts

April 14 - Jeremy Fogg and Alastair Dacey

April 28 - Paul Ingbretson and Jean Lightman

May 19 - Elizabeth Ives Hunter


About Discover Portsmouth

Discover Portsmouth, located at 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH is operated by the nonprofit Portsmouth Historical Society, which also operates the John Paul Jones House Museum. For further information on exhibitions, publications, gift shop, lectures, rentals, and tours, please call 603-436-8433 or visit PortsmouthHistory.org.


(above: Edmund C. Tarbell (1862-1938), View of the Piscataqua River, New Castle, New Hampshire, ca. 1925, Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 inches, Private collection)


Additional images

To view images of additional paintings in the Illuminating Tarbell: Life and Art on the Piscataqua exhibition, please click here.

Resource Library editor's note

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Lender names from artwork captions in January 19, 2016 article by Jeremy G. Fogg in incollect.com. Images courtesy of Portsmouth Historical Society.

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