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 Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait  (1819 - 1905)

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Lived/Active: New York / England      Known for: animal, game and domestic fowl and hunting scene painting

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Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Liverpool, England, Arthur Tait became America's first important sporting artist. In England, he trained as a lithographer for Agnews, an art dealer in Manchester, and taught himself to paint by copying works at the Royal Institute. He also assisted American Indian painter George Catlin, with his traveling Indian gallery that he had brought to England, and Tait was impressed with Catlin's subject matter and skill.

In 1850, Tait came to America to pursue his interest in wildlife and hunting, sports that were closed to the public in aristocratic England. He worked primarily from a studio in New York City and never got west of Chicago. Becoming a skilled woodsman and marksman, he acquired excellent first-hand knowledge that he brought to his paintings. As a result, his realistic genre hunting scenes, with their story-telling aspects, made him one of the 19th century's most popular painters.

1850 to 1860 was his most productive period, and his frontier paintings were taken as literal views although he never got west of Chicago. His colorful sporting and wildlife paintings were usually Adirondack Mountain scenes, which were popularized through thousands of Currier and Ives reproductions and Prang's chromolithographs. People loved the warm camaraderie of his hunting and fishing, cabin and campfire depictions, and he did much to focus public attention on natural scenery and wildlife.

He also mastered game still lifes, that influenced a succeeding generation of artists including Michael Harnett.  Tait's style was consistent and unchanging, and he had a long productive career until his death in 1905.

Source:
David Michael Zellman, 300 Years of American Art


Biography from Pierce Galleries, Inc.:
Tait, Arthur Fitzwilliam (Anglo-American, 1819-1905):

A.F. Tait was born in Livesey Hall near Liverpool, England, in 1819 and died in Yonkers, New York, in 1905. He was self taught and was a teacher of drawing and lithography in Liverpool before he came to the United States. Tait strictly adhered to the “truth to nature” theory advocated by John Ruskin in Modern Painters (1843) and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which came into being in 1848. He was an Associate (1853) and Academician (1858) at the National Academy of Design, NYC.

Tait’s work is represented in the permanent collections of the Denver Art Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Shelburne Museum, Vermont; Amon Carter Museum; Brooklyn Museum; Yale University Art Gallery; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Addison Gallery of American Art; Adirondack Museum; Tate Gallery, London; National Museum of Racing, Saratoga Springs, NY; Victoria & Albert Museum and more.

Tait is considered one of America’s finest animal painters. He became interested in frontier life when he assisted George Catlin with his traveling Indian Gallery in France and England in the 1840s. In 1850 Tait moved to New York and summered in the Adirondacks, where he painted many realistic nature scenes. After Currier and Ives printed Tait’s sporting views (1852-1864), he gained fame and recognition. He collaborated on paintings of cattle with James Hart and he completed a series of Indians and Western life genres with Louis Mauer.

Tait painted in and around Upper and Lower Chateaugay Lakes in the northern Adirondacks by 1852 and around Raquette Lake in Hamilton County by the early 1870s. By the late 1860’s, he was renown for painting fowl, game and domestic animals place in natural settings. In 1866, Louis Prang began to purchase Tait’s paintings to make prints. Tait precisely rendered natural forms. In Patricia C.F. Mandel’s article “The animal kingdom of Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait” (Antiques, 10/75), the author states that Tait shows realistic detail and accuracy with the play of light and shadow on woolly backed sheep. Mandel says Tait was “more than a story-teller in paint. He…emerged as an animal painter of great skill and a notable colorist.”

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:
Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait was one of the foremost animal and sporting scene painters of nineteenth-century America. Born 5 August 1819 near Liverpool, England, Tait moved to Manchester as a youth and learned the techniques of lithography while working for an art dealer in that city. By 1838 he identified himself as an artist and had a rising reputation as a lithographer and illustrator of popular magazines. According to one biographer, he met and worked with George Catlin (1796-1872), as Catlin toured Great Britain and Europe with his "Indian Gallery." Tait wed Marian Cardwell in 1838 and immigrated to New York with his young family in September 1850.

By 1852 Tait had begun a long, profitable association with the Currier & Ives publishing company. At the same time he discovered the Adirondack mountains of New York, and for the rest of his life his life and art were tied to that region. He became a skilled outdoorsman, hunter, and amateur naturalist. His hunting scenes and depictions of rural life were publicized through Currier & Ives and, through frequent publication, became staples of American pictorial representation.

He became an associate of the National Academy of Design in 1854 and participated in their annual exhibitions for fifty-three years. In addition to his lithographs, Tait painted still lifes, horse and dog subjects, and landscapes. In his long career Tait produced thosands of paintings, frequently making original copies of his own work.

After the death of his first wife, Tait wed Mary Jane Bartoft, niece of his first wife, in 1873. Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait died 28 April 1905 at his home in New York City. His papers, business records, and a large number of his works are part of the collections of the Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York.


Biography from Altermann Galleries & Auctioneers VI:
Born: Livesey Hall, near Liverpool, England 1819
Died: Yonkers, New York 1905

Important painter of Western, sporting, and animal subjects for Currier & Ives

After attending a country school, when he was 12, Tait was employed by Agnew’s, Manchester, England, art dealers. At night he studied from casts at the Royal Manchester Institute. Apart from this limited exposure and study, he was self-taught. Tait assisted Catlin with his Indian Gallery in London and Paris. To paint the wilder outdoors, Tait immigrated to New York City in 1850. He was immediately successful, with a studio on Broadway and a camp on Long Lake in the Adironacks.

At this time, the publisher N. Currier had hired Ives as his bookkeeper. The firm of Currier & Ives was to produce more than 7,000 different prints, priced from five cents to three dollars. One of the finest C & I artists was Taits, beginning in 1852. Great care was used in reproduction of Tait paintings, nearly always in large folio, with the ablest handcolorists, because Tait had the leverage of being an independent artist rather than an employee. As of 1928, the record price for a C&I print was for Tait’s The Life of a Hunter. About 1950, Simkin claims to have seen a Tait print priced higher than the original Tait painting. Tait and Louis Maurer collaborated on the C&I series of Indians and Western life. “Neither had any knowledge of Indians. Their research was done in the Astor Library, on illustrations buy Bodmer and prints by Catlin. Tait never did go farther West than Chicago. He was a skillful academic painter in a community which had no acquaintance with the best in art.”

Resource: SAMUELS’ Encyclopedia of ARTISTS of THE AMERICAN WEST,
Peggy and Harold Samuels, 1985, Castle Publishing

Biography from Firestone Fine Art - III:
Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait was born in Livesey Hall near Liverpool, England.  At age 12, he began working at Agnew & Zanetti Repository of Art in Manchester, England, and painted part time.  He taught himself to paint by copying original works at the Royal Institute in Manchester (now the City Art Gallery).  In 1850 Tait moved to New York City and established a camp in the Adirondacks, where he spent his summers.

The Adirondacks proved to be an unending inspiration for him, and Tait soon became known for his paintings, watercolors, and sketches of hunting scenes and animals in their natural habitat. Tait's deer themes set in the mountainous landscapes of the Adirondacks became especially popular and even gained him worldwide recognition.

Tait produced nearly 2,000 oils, watercolors, and sketches of frontier, animal, and hunting scenes -- testimony to why he is considered America's leading 19th-century animal and sporting painter.

In 1852, Currier & Ives reproduced many of his paintings in lithographs, helping to expose Tait's art and name nationally.  During the last half of the19th century, nearly 200 of Tait's paintings were shown at the National Academy of Design in New York, where he was elected Academician in 1858.

His scenes of Adirondack wildlife were also exhibited at the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Brooklyn Art Association, Boston Art Club, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

His artwork can be found in renowned museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Adirondack Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, Library of Congress, Denver Art Museum, Amon Carter Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art.


Biography from Stephen B. O'Brien Jr. Fine Arts, LLC:
Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait (1819-1905)

Known as one of America’s earliest sporting artists, A.F. Tait was born in Liverpool, England and trained as a lithographer for Agnews, an art dealer in Manchester. While in their employ he was exposed to the works of Edwin Landseer and John Frederick Herring and taught himself to paint by copying works at the Royal Institute.

Tait also met the American Indian painter George Catlin, and assisted him with his traveling art exhibit throughout the Continent. In 1850, Tait came to America where he pursued his interest in wildlife and hunting. He worked from a studio in New York City, but spent a great deal of time in the forests of the Adirondack region where he acquired excellent first-hand knowledge of hunting and fishing that he brought to his paintings.

His realistic hunting scenes, with their strong narrative qualities were made into prints and distributed by Currier and Ives.From 1850 to 1860, Tait also painted the American frontier and game still lifes. His work influenced a succeeding generation of artists including Michael Harnett. He is known to have collaborated on paintings with Jon Hart and he made a series of paintings of Indians and western life with Louis Maurer.

His work is included in the Amon Carter Museum, the Shelburne Museum, the Addison Gallery of American Art and the Corcoran Gallery, among others.

Biography from Thomas Nygard Gallery:
Born near Liverpool, England, Arthur Tait left his homeland in 1850 as a well trained lithographic artist, setting off to the states to pursue a career as a painter.  In 1852, his confidence bolstered by a major painting sale to the print-making firm of Currier & Ives, he decided to become an American citizen.  More good fortune came his way upon a family trip to the Adirondacks of northern New York.  He fell in love with the land that was to provide him with many years of painting material and a place to call home.  Living in the country year-round he recorded, through careful observation, deer, bear, grouse and other creatures in their native habitat.

Currier & Ives continued to print lithographs of Tait's meticulously painted scenes of hunting, fishing, and wildlife; providing the Tait's with a steady income.  These images popularized the Adirondacks and brought the region to the attention of sportsman. In his later years, unable to make the sojourns to the Adirondacks, Tait focused his attention on more domestic scenes. Even the tame scenes of chickens, roosters, sheep, etc. found a favorable audience.  His exquisite attention to detail and dramatic use of light granted him a permanent place in the hearts of art connoisseurs and the general public alike.

Source:
Thomas Nygard Gallery

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