DescriptionEDWIN AUSTIN ABBEY (American, 1852-1911)
Procession of Ye Tilers at Long Island, 1878
Illustration for "The Tile Club at Play," Scribner's Monthly, February 1879, Vol. XVII, No. 4.
Ink and pencil on cardboard
4-1/2 x 24-3/4 inches (11.4 x 62.9 cm)
Signed with Abbey's sobriquet "Chestnut" with various inscriptions along lower edge
FROM THE JEAN AND GRAHAM DEVOE WILLIFORD CHARITABLE TRUST
Museums of Stony Brook, New York, "The Tile Club and the Aesthetic Movement in America, " October 9, 1999-January 23, 2000 (traveling thereafter to the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, Connecticut, February 5-May 7, 2000; and the Frick Art Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 19-August 13, 2000);
Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler, Texas, "Studiously Slangy and Bohemian: The Tile Club--Artists of America's Aesthetic Movement from the Graham Williford Collection," December 14, 2010-February 20, 2011.
R. G. Pisano, The Tile Club and the Aesthetic Movement in America, New York, 1999, pp. 30-31, illustrated.
Cultivating exclusivity,mystery, and the all-important bohemian air, the members of The Tile Club (1877-1887) based in New York City arguably became the first group of American-based artists to succeed in intentionally creating a "cult" of the artist. They delighted in publicity. With a tongue-in-cheek pronouncement, "Let us be decorative!" against a backdrop of America's post-Civil War "Aesthetic Movement" vogue for things decorative and beautifully-crafted, these artists gathered together at weekly soirées to paint ceramic tiles in any manner they wished.
Although the tile-painting only lasted a few years, the Club members continued to meet for approximately a decade, engaging in bohemian antics and deeds. Important among those activities were the organized outings such as plain-air sketching trips to Long Island (1878-81) and up the Hudson River (1880). With the artists providing illustrations to the "travelogues" written by the writers of the group, their articles appeared in the popular illustrated magazines of the day (Scribner's Monthly and The Century Magazine), and captured the popular imagination for an "aesthetic" life.
This humorous drawing by Edwin Austin Abbey records the first sketching trip made by Tile Club members on June 10,1878, to Long Island. They are shown by Abbey, whose Tile Club sobriquet was Chestnut (owing to the fact he told old stories!), wearing the enormous straw hats they all purchased in Sayville to shield themselves from the sun while sketching. The trek to their East Hampton destination was a sixteen-mile walk behind a horse-drawn carriage engaged to transport their luggage and artists' materials. The eleven artists who made the exhausting journey recorded by Abbey included (their "Tiler" sobriquets in parentheses): Edwin Austin Abbey, William O'Donovan ("O'Donoghue"), journalist William Laffan ("Polyphemus"), Robert Swain Gifford ("The Griffin"), Walter Paris ("Gaul"), Charles S. Reinhart ("Sirius"), F. Hopkinson Smith ("Owl"), Arthur Quartley ("Marine"), Edward Wimbridge ("Grasshopper"), artist-turned art critic Earl Shinn ("Bone"), and famous baritone William Baird (honorary member, "Barytone").While the group as a whole did not produce any distinct artistic style, the Club members--limited to 12 but in fact fluctuating up to 30 at one point--were some of the most notable American artists of the period including Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and Elihu Vedder.
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