Marion Hiller Fenno at Nine as Mandolinata, painted by Tarbell early in his career, shows a young girl dressed for a tableau vivant that was performed at James Arthur Beebe’s home in Boston during the winter of 1887–88. Fenno, the daughter of an affluent wool merchant, is dressed as La...
Marion Hiller Fenno at Nine as Mandolinata, painted by Tarbell early in his career, shows a young girl dressed for a tableau vivant that was performed at James Arthur Beebe’s home in Boston during the winter of 1887–88. Fenno, the daughter of an affluent wool merchant, is dressed as La Mandolinata, a character from popular poems and songs of the day who sang serenades and accompanied herself on the mandolin. The Fenno and Beebe families, who lived in townhouses near each other in the wealthy Back Bay section of Boston, organized this tableau vivant as part of a social gathering. Just as artists—especially in England—had since the eighteenth century portrayed professional actors dressed for their roles on stage, the Fenno family wished Tarbell to render their daughter in her role as an amateur actress in a tableau vivant. Tarbell received the commission shortly after he returned to Boston from studying in France, and the skills he had learned are apparent in his portrayal of Fenno’s hands on the mandolin and his rendering of her costume and the fur rug. Tarbell [23.532] later became an important Impressionist artist and an influential teacher at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This text was adapted from Carol Troyen and Janet L. Comey, Amerikakaigakodomo no sekai [Children in American art], exh. cat. (Nagoya, Japan: Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 2007).
Lower right: E.C. Tarbell.
1887-88, the parents of the sitter, Edward Nicoll and Ellen Bradlee Fenno, Boston and Falmouth, Mass.; by descent to the sitter, Marion Fenno Bell; 1967, by descent to her cousin, J. Brooks Fenno, Chestnut Hill, Mass.; by descent to his wife, Virginia Fenno Hopkins, Chestnut Hill; 1984, gift of J. Brooks Fenno to the MFA. (Accession Date: November 26, 1986)
Gift of J. Brooks Fenno