Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait
Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, A British born landscape artist, was one of the nineteenth century's most popular painters. A good story-teller on canvas, Tait was able to instill in his genre paintings a strong sense of drama and conflict.
Although he never traveled further West than Chicago, he acquired a reputation as a frontier artist, painting scenes of hunters and wildlife, mainly from his experiences in upstate New York. The Quail and Young (date unknown, Corcoran Gallery of Arts), is a typical example.
Tait was born in 1819 in Liverpool, and schooled in Lancaster. By his mid-teens, he was working at Agents, an art dealer in Manchester. In his spare time, he taught himself how to paint by copying works at the Royal Institute.
During these years, he was able to assist George Catlin with his traveling Indian gallery in England and Paris. Tait was impressed with Catlin's interpretation of the American West; it provided the impetus for his own immigration to the United States in 1850.
Tait worked out of New York City, but spent considerable time in the Adirondack Mountains, becoming a proficient marksman and woodsman. Using this rugged setting as a background, Tait focused much of his art on capturing the drama of a man against nature. His style, which combined misty, atmospheric landscape settings with detailed renderings of human figures, reminds one of that of George Caleb Bingham.
The period 1850 to 1860 was a prolific time for Tait. His paintings were accepted by Easterners as definitive views of life on the frontier. Currier and Ives reproduced much of his work, making him one of the most popular artists of the period.
These genre paintings were not his only source of success. Tait mastered still lifes of dead game, influencing a whole generation of artists, beginning with William Michael Harnett 25 years later. He also did barnyard landscapes, a pastoral departure from his frontier scenes.
Tait's style did not change from 1860 until death in 1905; he continued to work in the style which he had found successful.
National Academy of Design
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts
Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York
Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Fort Worth, Texas
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Denver Art Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Museum of the City of New York
R.W./ Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport, Louisiana
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut