Tile Club

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Aesthetic Movement

Edwin Austin Abbey (1852—1911) illustrator and painter

William Merritt Chase (1849—1916)

Winslow Homer (1836—1910) American painter

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An informal New York artists' group. Founded in the fall of 1877, it provided camaraderie and a venue for discussion of artistic matters. At first, members gathered weekly to paint tiles, a decorative activity reflecting aesthetic movement interests. However, after a year or two the commitment to “tiling” dwindled, and other artistic activities, such as sketching, eventually supplanted the original purpose. The group also organized summer outings, which generally included the newly fashionable pursuit of plein air drawing or painting. The club apparently disbanded within a year after publishing A Book of the Tile Club (1886), a lavish compendium featuring illustrations of members' work (but only one tile design) and light-hearted accounts of the group's activities. Intentionally exclusive as well as somewhat secretive, the club was by agreement (there were no bylaws) limited to twelve men. However, membership was somewhat fluid as participants sojourned intermittently in Europe or drifted away. In addition, there were at times honorary members. Generally limited to professional artists or illustrators, the group permitted exceptions, including lithographer-turned-society photographer, Napoleon Sarony (1821–96), and architect Stanford White, as well as a few musicians and writers. Major artists on the roster at one time or another included Edwin Austin Abbey, William Merritt Chase, Winslow Homer, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John Twachtman, and Elihu Vedder.

Subjects: Art.

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