Printmakers You Should Know: Agnes Tait

Today we'll wrap up our little exploration of great American women lithographers with Agnes Tait (1894-1981). Of course, there are plenty of other fantastic women lithographers out there that you should know about, but we'll look into them at another time. 

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Agnes Tait. Image courtesy of
Agnes Tait was originally from New York. She studied art at the National Academy of Design, and after taking some time off to mourn her mother's death, she graduated in 1913. In addition to creating her own work, Tait modeled for artists such as George Bellows and Tenney Johnson.

One of her important early teachers was Leon Kroll, who emphasized careful craftsmanship in his work. It's a characteristic you see in a lot of Tait's work; considerable thought went into the design and execution of her pieces.

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Agnes Tait, Woman with Flowers by the Sea. Image courtesy of
During the Great Depression, Tait was employed by the W.P.A., creating several murals and stand-alone paintings. Her most famous work, Skating in Central Park, was painted during this period. She'd always wanted to do a large-scale piece celebrating the abstract patterns created by the ice skaters, and once she was signed on to the W.P.A., she finally had a patron that allowed her to do so.

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Agnes Tait, Skating in Central Park, 1934, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of
Tait first encountered New Mexico in 1941, when she and her husband, journalist William McNulty, moved there. Tait would spend the rest of her life there, settling in Santa Fe. Throughout her life though, she continued to travel and train in Europe, Mexico, and other places, creating paintings, children's book illustrations, and of course, prints. 

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Agnes Tait, Tesque, New Mexico. Image courtesy of
Tait first encountered lithography in 1927, when she traveled to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. She would create print editions throughout the Depression to help support herself, and many of these are among her best-known works, but she continued to make lithographs throughout her life.

Several of her lithographs are inspired by her travels to such places as Haiti and Jamaica:

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Agnes Tait, Dominique, late 1930s-1940s, lithograph. Image courtesy of

Other prints reflect her experiences in New Mexico:

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Agnes Tait, Saint's Day, lithograph. Image courtesy of
She also created several images focusing on cats. Siamese in particular appear in many of her works, though other cats are depicted as well. One of these feline-themed works, The Aristocrat, was featured in the RMAC exhibit Seeing Cats and Dogs.

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Agnes Tait, The Sailor's Cats, lithograph. Image courtesy of 
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Agnes Tait, Felicity, 1936, lithograph. Image courtesy of
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Agnes Tait, The Old Friend, 1954, lithograph. Image courtesy of

In short, Tait led a life filled with travel, cats, and art. What's not to like?

Want to learn more? Here are some sites: