Three Sisters— A Study in June Sunlight

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Edmund Charles Tarbell (American, 1862–1938)
Three Sisters— A Study in June Sunlight, 1890
Oil on canvas
35 1/8 × 40 1/8 in. (89.22 × 101.92 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Montgomery Sears M1925.1
Photo credit: John R. Glembin
Currently on View

The subtitle of this first important Impressionist work by Edmund Tarbell is a clear indication of his interest in the new French style just recently introduced in America. The painting’s dappled light, brilliant palette, and short, textured brush strokes caused a sensation when it was exhibited in Tarbell’s hometown of Boston. The transient light and undiluted color create a warm atmosphere in which the figures are more solidly drawn. Posing his wife, her sisters, and his baby daughter in a lovely garden setting, Tarbell did not attempt probing portraits but instead sought to portray an affluent and tranquil way of life. The inclusion of the American colonial chair implies their New England heritage that underlies this seemingly French aesthetic.

Publication History
Brettell, Richard R., Frances Fowle, and Katherine M. Bourguignon. American Impressionism: A New Vision, 1880-1900, 2014, color illus. p. 90, detail; p. 110.

Kelly, Chelsea Emelie. People's Choice: Your Top 25 Works of Art in the Collection. Entry posted April 5, 2013. http://blog.mam.org/2013/04/05/peoples-choice-your-top-25-works-of-art-in-the-collection/ (accessed October 28, 2014).

Barter, Judith A. The Age of American Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 2011, color illus. p. 13, fig. 4.

Adler, Kathleen. Americans in Paris 1860-1900. London: National Gallery Company, 2006, color pl. 92.

Andera, Margaret, Nonie Gadsden, Britt Salvesen, and Laurie Winters. Collection Guide: Milwaukee Art Museum. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2004, pp. 34, 70, cat. 51, color illus. p. 34.

Buckley, Laurene. Edmund C. Tarbell. Poet of Domesticity. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 2001, color illus. pl. 32.

Impressionism Transformed: The Paintings of Edmund C.Tarbell.Manchester: Currier Gallery of Art, 2001, color illus. pl. 52.

Docherty, Linda J., Hirshler, Erica E., Strickler, Susan. Family Pictures: The Impressionist Art of Edmund C. Tarbell. The Magazine Antiques, November, 2001, p. 660-669, color pl. 661.

Milwaukee Art Museum. Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2001, p. 112, color illus.

Goldstein, Rosalie, ed. Guide to the Permanent Collection. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1986, p. 115, color illus. p. 115.

Weinberg, H. Barbara. American Impressionism and Realism: The Painting of Modern Life, 1885-1915. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, 1994, cat. 80, p. 262-265, color illus. p. 263, fig. 260.

Weinberg, H. Barbara. American Impressionism (Rizzoli Art Series). New York, New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1994, cat. 6, color illus.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Days of Leisure [notecards]. New York, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993.

Gerdts, William H. Lasting Impressions American Painters in France 1865-1915. Musee Americain Giverny, Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1992, b/w illus. p. 79.

Hiesinger, Ulrich, W. Impressionism in America, The Ten American Painters. Presel-Verlag, 1991, b/w illus. p. 131.

Montgomery, Elizabeth Miles. American Impressionists. New York: Crescent Books, 1991, p. 108-109, illus.

Broude, Norma, editor. World Impressionism: The International Movement, 1860-1920. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1990, p. 64, pl. 69.

Milwaukee Art Museum. 1888: Frederick Layton and His World. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1988, p. 78-79, cat. 21, color illus. p. 79.

Pisano, Ronald G. Idle Hours. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1988, color illus. p. 16.

Twin Cities Women's Directory 1988. St. Paul: FH Publications, 1988, p. 3, color illus. cover.

Baby Book and Childhood Memories. London: Alan Hutchison Publishing Co., 1988, color illus.

Lack, R. Realism in Revolution: The Art of the Boston School. Taylor Publishing Co., 1985, color illus.

Pierce, Patricia Jobe. Edmund C. Tarbell and the Boston School of Painting (1889-1980). Hingham, Massachussetts: Pierce Galleries, 1980, illus. p. 83, 220.

Boston Globe. July 13,1980, illus. p. 25.

Time Magazine. August 18, 1980, color illus. p. 64.

Henry Art Gallery. American Impressionism. Seattle: Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, 1980, p. 92, 94, 139, color illus. p. 92.

Two American Impressionists: Frank W. Benson and Edmund C. Tarbell. New Hampshire: Art Galleries, University of New Hampshire, 1979, cat. 1, illus. p. 8.

Pierce, Patricia Jobe. The Ten. North Abington (later Hingham), Massachusetts: Pierce Galleries, 1976, color illus. p. 42.

French and American Impressionism. Tulsa, Oklahoma: Philbrook Art Center, 1967, cat. 64, illus. p. 21.

Frank W. Benson and Edmund C. Tarbell Exhibition. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1938, cat. 147.

66th Annual Exhibition. New York: National Academy of Design, 1891, cat. 234.
Exhibition History
American Impressionism: A New Vision, Musée des Impressionism, Giverny, France; March 29–June 29, 2014; National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, July 19–October 19, 2014; Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain, November 14, 2014–February 1, 2015.

Americans in Paris, National Gallery, London, England, February 22–May 21, 2006; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, June 25–September 24, 2006; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 16, 2006–January 28, 2007.

Impressionism Transformed: The Paintings of Edmund C. Tarbell, Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire, October 13, 2001–January 13, 2002; Delaware Museum of Art, February 13–April 28 2002; Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, May 11–July 21, 2002.

American Painters of Modern Life: Impressionism and Realism 1885-1915, Metropolitan Museum of Art, May 2–July 24, 1994; Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, August 22–October 30, 1994; Denver Art Museum, November 28, 1994–February 5, 1995; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 6–May 14, 1995.

American Impressionist Paintings, Fondazione Thyssen-Bornemisza, Switzerland, July 22–October 28, 1990.

1888: Frederick Layton and His World, Milwaukee Art Museum, April 8–August 28, 1988.

American Impressionism, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, January 3–March 2, 1980.

Two American Impressionists: Frank W. Benson and Edmund C. Tarbell, Art Galleries, University of New Hampshire, March 12–April 26,1979.

French and American Impressionism, Philbrook Art Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma, October 2–November 26, 1967.

Frank W. Benson and Edmund C. Tarbell exhibition, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, November 16–December 15, 1938.

1st Annual Art Exhibition, Wisconsin State Fair, West Allis, Wisconsin, 1928.

66th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York, Spring 1891.

Frank W. Benson and Edmund C. Tarbell exhibition, St. Botolph Club, Boston, January 1891.


This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.