Item #AT-00338

Rare study of "Mother and Child in Boat" by American Artist Edmund Tarbell (1862-1938).


Rare study of "Mother and Child in Boat" by American Artist Edmund Tarbell (1862-1938). Painting is included in the artist Catalogue Raisonne from Pierce Gallery in 1938. This is a Study of famous Tarbell painting at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Listed in the book: Edmund C. Tarbell & the Boston School of Painting by Patricia Jobe Pierce page 206.

Framed in a gilt Museum frame.



14.25"H x 18.25"W

22" x 26"


Pierce Gallery, Hingham Mass.
Goldfield Gallery, Los Angles Ca.
Cannon Collection
Debra Force, NYC

Although Edmund Charles Tarbell had been exposed to Impressionism during his student days in Paris from 1884 to 1886, it was not until 1890 that he started painting in this progressive style. His conversion was no doubt influenced by the exhibition in 1890 of Sargent’s A Morning Walk (private collection), the first of his Impressionist works to be shown in Boston. Tarbell painted Mother and Child in a Boat using his wife Emeline and daughter Josephine as models. He rendered the shimmer of light on the water and the dappled sunlight on the rowboat and costumes with strokes of pure color. Reluctant to relinquish his hard-earned drawing skills—his avowed purpose for studying in Paris—Tarbell carefully delineated his wife’s hands and features and deftly foreshortened his daughter’s left leg in the final painting.

The overhanging branches and high viewpoint, aspects borrowed from Japanese prints, provide an intimate view of these figures in a boat, a popular motif for both French and American Impressionists. His first study of this piece was done and found its way to Freehold New Jersey. Other studies remain in other private collections. Sargent had painted a strikingly similar composition, Two Women Asleep in a Punt under the Willows (1887, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon), which Tarbell may have known through his friend Dennis Miller Bunker [45.475], who worked with Sargent in 1888 and who had exhibited his own Impressionist landscapes alongside Sargent’s.

* This text was adapted from Janet L. Comey’s entry in Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting, by Erica E. Hirshler et al., exh. cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005).