Maybe the name isn’t familiar, but the paintings certainly are, since Tait was the most popular painter to have his Adirondack paintings published by lithographers Currier and Ives.
Already successful in New York City for his extraordinarily realistic paintings of wildlife, the Currier and Ives exposure made him nationally famous, and drew attention to the Northeast Wilderness so close to New York and Boston.
Born in England in 1819, Tait was just over 30 when he relocated to New York City and not long after became enamored of the Adirondacks. He summered at a shanty near Raquette Lake painting sporting scenes amongst the lush landscapes that were to become some of his best-known works. Paintings such as “A Good Time Coming” (1862) featured the artist, two guides and a friend from Brooklyn enjoying the day’s catch around a campfire, while the dogs stand by. Hunting and canoe fishing were often depicted, but he also painted a number of nature “portraits” of bears, beavers, and quite a few farm animals in stunning detail.
Tait’s eye for detail is evident in every one of the more than 50 paintings exhibited, 38 of which are part of the Adirondack Museum’s permanent collection. Many of his works are part of our national consciousness, and to see them in person not only recalls a déjà vu kind of feeling, but it also helps to connect us to the fairly recent history of this region.
Well worth the trip to Blue Mountain Lake on State Rte 30, try not to miss this exhibit, which goes through October 17, 2011. The ADK Museum is a full-day event, with plenty of other exhibits, and a really nice café with a great view of the lake itself. Museum admission is $18 for adults, $16 seniors and $12 students. Take a look at the visitor’s guide here.
Along with ornithologist and painter John James Audubon, A. F. Tait will be featured in a special lecture by David Wagner, author of American Wildlife Art, at the Adirondack Museum on Monday, August 15, 2011, from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM.
Illustration: Above, “A Good Time Coming,” 1862, by Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait. Courtesy the Adirondack Museum.
Linda J. Peckel explores the Adirondacks by following the arts wherever they take her. Her general art/writing/film/photography musings on can be found at her own blog Arts Enclave.