Edmund C. Tarbell (1862–1938)

In the Orchard, 1891

Oil on canvas, 60 3/4 x 65 1/2 in. (154.3 x 166.4 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.141

Edmund C. Tarbell represented the so-called Boston school of impressionism and was a member of the group known as the Ten American Painters. When he showed In the Orchard at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Tarbell became the acknowledged leader of a national impressionist movement. The painting depicts Tarbell’s wife, Emeline, on the right and wearing a black hat; his sister-in-law, Lydia, standing in a white dress at left and again seated with her back to the viewer; his brother-in-law, Richmond, leaning on the bench; and Lemira Eastman, a family friend, in blue at center, conversing in a bucolic setting on a summer afternoon. Poses and glances tie the five together in an intimate circle under dappled sunlight. The ambitious composition attracted considerable praise at a time when Americans typically saw French impressionism as crude and garish. In the Orchard demonstrated that heightened color and loose brushwork could be used by American artists to create pleasing subjects.

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.