Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862 – 1938), the famed American Impressionist painter, completed Three Sisters – A Study in June Sunlight in 1890. The painting, having stirred excitement and debate in the art world from its first appearance, was acquired not long after its completion by Mrs. Montgomery Sears.
Born to a wealthy family in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Mrs. Montgomery Sears was a prize-winning artist and respected photographer in her own right. An art patron and student of the arts, she studied under Tarbell at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and counted, among others, Tarbell, Mary Cassatt, and Alfred Stieglitz as personal friends. With their guidance, she eagerly collected the work of Edgar Degas, Edward Manet, Maurice Prendergast, Paul Cézanne, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse and more. (Today, most of her collection resides in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.)
So, how did Three Sisters find its way from one of the most important art collections of the early twentieth century to a fledgling art institute in the Midwest?