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...
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. 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. Sargent had painted a strikingly similar composition, Two Women Asleep in a Punt under the Willows (1887, CalousteGulbenkian 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).
Lower right: Edmund C. Tarbell/1892
By 1893, Clara Bertram Kimball (died 1920), Boston; 1920, by inheritance to her husband, David P. Kimball (1833-1923), Boston ; 1923, bequest of David P. Kimball to the MFA. (Accession Date: November 1, 1923)  In 1923 David P. Kimball bequeathed forty paintings to the MFA in memory of his wife, Clara Bertram Kimball. He noted in his will that these were "from the collection made by her and bequeathed to me."
Bequest of David P. Kimball in memory of his wife Clara Bertram Kimball