Agnes Tait

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Agnes Tait
Born (1894-06-14)June 14, 1894
New York City
Died August 23, 1981(1981-08-23) (aged 87)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Nationality American
Education Leon Kroll
Alma mater National Academy of Design École des Beaux-Arts
Known for Painting, printmaking, children's book illustrations
Notable work Skating in Central Park
Spouse(s) William McNulty

Agnes Tait (1894–1981) was an American painter, pen-and-ink artist, lithographer, book illustrator, muralist and dancer.

Early life[edit]

Agnes was born the youngest of two daughters. Her sister, Anita, was 10 years old when Agnes was born in Greenwich Village, New York City. After graduating from grammar school, Tait secretly applied to the National Academy of Design much to her parents' surprise, who were happy at the prospect of free tuition. As part of her studies, she took a life drawing course taught by Leon Kroll. During her studies she earned multiple awards for her work, and after graduating she moved in with her terminally ill father.


Tait's Skating in Central Park (1934)
Black and white reproduction of Come Away, Oh Human Child, 1916 New York Watercolor Club Exhibition

Tait began exhibiting at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1915 and continued in the annuals at the National Academy of Design, the Corcoran, and the Pennsylvania Academy in the early 1930s.[1] Set on distinguishing herself as both an artist and dancer, she spent her nights dancing the chorus line with writer Caroline Singer. In 1927 she spent several weeks in a studio in Paris where she studied lithography at the École des Beaux-Arts[2] before returning to New York City to rent her own studio in Lower Manhattan. Her first exhibition was held at Dudensing Gallery with fellow female artists Jo Cantine and Jean Slusser and received a review in the New York Times. She continued to find success as an artist and in 1928 gained representation from Cooperstown Art Association. Commissions for her work, including a print for a United Fruit Company executive, allowed her to travel to Europe, Jamaica, and Haiti.[3] The Great Depression crashed the art market which led Ferargil Gallery to request Anges to paint pictures of widely known public figures in hopes to glean buyers. She received critical praise for her work on these and other portraits, though the art market would not recover for years to come. In 1933, Tait took a third trip to Europe, this time with her new husband, William McNulty, a recently unemployed writer. Upon returning to the United States, she began work on her most famous piece, Skating in Central Park, under employment from the Public Works of Art Project. The work's success led to further employment under the Federal Art Project, including small lithographic editions and mural work. Her mural Fruits of the Land (1941) is located in the post office in Laurinburg, North Carolina.

Tait illustrated three children's books, Peter & Penny of the Island, Heide and Paco's Miracle.[4]

New Mexico[edit]

Her husband's health prompted the couple to relocate to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1941 where Agnes added Southwestern landscape painting to her repertoire.[5] During this time, her sister and husband developed health complications that pre-occupied Tait, who like Manet, found solace in painting cats. Despite the hardships, she continued to take commissions for portraits and murals, and after 22 years in Santa Fe Agnes set out to find a new home. This was in part a result of her disappointment in being relegated to the status of "New Mexico Artist". Tait once said "If people want to think of me as a Santa Fe artist, well--let them think anything they want."[6] After spending time in Italy, Ireland, and Florida, she returned to Santa Fe to live out the rest of her life.

Public Collections[edit]


  1. ^ Grauer, Michael R. (2004). "Woman Artists of Santa Fe". American Art Review. XVI (5): 167.
  2. ^ "Agnes Tait". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  3. ^ Peña, Lydia M. (1984). "In the American Scene: The Life and Times of Agnes Tait". Woman's Art Journal. Spring - Summer. 5 (1): 35–36. doi:10.2307/1357883. JSTOR 1357883.
  4. ^ Falk, Peter (1999). Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975 : 400 Years of Artists in America. Madison, CT: Sound View Press. p. 3243. ISBN 0932087558.
  5. ^ Peña, Lydia M. (1984). "In the American Scene: The Life and Times of Agnes Tait". Woman's Art Journal. Spring - Summer. 5 (1): 38. doi:10.2307/1357883. JSTOR 1357883.
  6. ^ Peña, Lydia M. (1984). "In the American Scene: The Life and Times of Agnes Tait". Woman's Art Journal. Spring - Summer. 5 (1): 39. doi:10.2307/1357883. JSTOR 1357883.


  • "On View in the New York Galleries". Parnassus. 4 (5): 21–28. March 1932. doi:10.2307/770790. JSTOR 770790.
  • "Quarterly Journal of Current Acquisitions". Fine Arts. 2 (2): 84–87. February 1945. JSTOR 29780378.
  • "The Curator's Report". Archives of American Art Journal. 21 (2): 32. 1981. JSTOR 1557310.

External links[edit]