Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait was born at Livesey Hall, near Liverpool, England, and began his career as a clerk at the gallery of Agnew & Zanetti’s Repository of Arts in Manchester. While there, he developed an interest in studying drawing, and he
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Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait
The Intruder

1864

About

Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait was born at Livesey Hall, near Liverpool, England, and began his career as a clerk at the gallery of Agnew & Zanetti’s Repository of Arts in Manchester. While there, he developed an interest in studying drawing, and he eventually became a teacher, lithographer, and draftsman. Through the influences of English sporting artists Edwin Landseer, Richard Ansdell, and William Huggins, Tait devoted himself exclusively to sporting painting. Upon his arrival in America in 1850, the artist began to develop a more naturalistic style. Tait discovered the Adirondacks and the wide variety of animal life that inhabited its regions in 1852. The course of his career made an immediate turn at this point, as the plentiful opportunities for camping, sketching, and sporting afforded him by the rugged and untamed Adirondack landscape proved to be irresistible. Through his summers in the Adirondack Mountains, Tait became an avid outdoorsman, and participated in many of the activities he depicted in his paintings. Tait maintained a studio in New York, but at every opportunity he left for the Adirondacks, staying variously at Chateaugay and Loon Lake. Tait eventually found a number of ready buyers for his work. By the early 1860s, he moved out of New York to the suburb of Morrisania, thanks to the number of works of his sold by prominent New York art dealers, such as Samuel P. Avery and Michael Knoedler. In 1866, a single auction of 69 of his works earned him over $6,000, and later that year he established a long-term relationship with Louis Prang, who, along with Currier & Ives, sold a number of lithographs of Tait’s images over the years. Beginning in 1860, Tait began to spend time on what is now called Antlers Point on Raquette Lake. By 1870, Tait was frustrated with the burgeoning tourism of the area, and he began to vacation instead on Long Lake, where he established a year-round residence from 1874 to 1877. He returned to the Raquette Lake area often, however, and some of his best works were painted there. When his first son was born in 1876, Tait devised a floating studio so that he could escape the rigors and distractions of his home life, and leave for several days at a time. From his waterborne cabin, Tait made detailed studies of the local fauna, which he observed at length with a telescope, and he sketched and painted from nature endlessly. By 1877, Tait returned to New York, but still returned frequently to his house on Long Lake. In 1880, his wife died during the birth of their second child, and her half-sister, who soon married Tait, did not enjoy life in the mountains. In 1882, Tait sold his Long Lake house, thus closing the Adirondack chapter of his life. Tait was particularly productive in the year of 1864. In his checklist of the artist’s work, Henry F. Marsh records seventy-eight oil paintings from that year, including The Intruder (Cadbury and Marsh, loc. cit.). Several of these works include spaniels and woodcocks, as does the present painting. The Intruder bears a strong resemblance to the work of the great British animal painter, Sir Edwin Landseer. As Warder H. Cadbury has written: In this century Tait has occasionally been called by journalists the Landseer of America in a well-intentioned tribute to his talent as an animal painter. However, since both artists painted many canvases of deer, it is important not to mistake Landseer’s influence upon Tait’s style. . . . From the start [Tait] eschewed the anthropomorphic melodrama, pathos, humor, sentimentality, and metaphysical allegory that characterized so much of Landseer’s popular work. According to family tradition, Tait admired Landseer’s genius but felt that he “prettied” his animals too much. Tait’s debt to him may have been largely economic; by popularizing animal and sporting art throughout the English-speaking world, Landseer helped create a market for Tait’s canvases with similar themes but a quite different manner (ibid., p. 18). The early provenance of the present painting was recorded by Tait in his register of paintings, which reads: “[No.] 328. Cocker Spaniel & 3 Woodcock 20 x 14 on panel. Williams & Everett” (ibid., p. 245). Tait had maintained a strong relationship with the Williams & Everett gallery in Boston since about 1863, the year before the present picture was painted. That year, the gallery sold seven of Tait’s works, followed by seventeen in 1864, possibly including the present painting. Williams & Everett, the only free gallery in Boston, provided Tait a foothold in the Boston market for many years.

Details

  • Artist
    Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait (1819-1905, American)
  • Creation Year
    1864
  • Medium
  • Dimensions
    H 13.75 in. x W 20 in.H 34.93 cm x W 50.8 cm
  • Gallery Location
    New York, NY
  • Reference Number
    LU234656152
  • Seller Reference Number
    APG 8500
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