Agnes Gabrielle Tait (1894-1981)
Agnes Tait, Summerstorm, Oil on Canvas
Born in Greenwich Village, New York, Agnes Tait enrolled in the National Academy of Design at age 14, eventually becoming a student of Leon Kroll. She first exhibited her painting at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1914 and participated in major exhibitions throughout her career at such institutions as the Corcoran Gallery, the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Los Angeles County Museum. Her first solo exhibition took place at New York’s Ferargil Galleries in 1932.
Restless by nature, Tait traveled frequently to paint commissions or to gather inspiration for her own work. She made her first trip to Europe in 1927 to study lithography at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1930 she received a commission from the United Fruit Company to paint genre scenes and portraits of the people of Haiti and Jamaica. Exotic images—particularly tropical scenes—became a common theme in her work as she traveled in Mexico, the Caribbean, and southern Europe.
In 1934 Tait became an employee of the Public Works of Art Project. She produced some of her best-known works during the Depression era including the frequently reproduced painting Skating in Central Park, a set of murals for Belleview Hospital in New York, and a series of lithographic projects.
In 1941 Tait and her journalist husband, William McNulty, moved to Santa Fe where she added southwestern imagery to her repertoire of figure, landscape and genre paintings and lithographs. She became a member of the Prairie Print Makers which had close ties to Santa Fe and Taos. During her forty years in Santa Fe, Tait added children’s book illustration to her list of accomplishments. Among her book projects were Heidi in 1947 and Paco’s Miracle in 1961.
Agnes Tait’s work is now included in such museums as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Yale University Art Gallery, New York Public Library, Library of Congress, and Museum of New Mexico Art.
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