A Sense of Time: The Historical Art of L. F. Tantillo

The 1748 Arrival of Governor George Clinton, Len Tantillo, 2016, oil on canvas, Albany Institute of History & Art, gift of Donald and Ann Eberle, 2016.27.1

JANUARY 27—JULY 25, 2021

Artist Len Tantillo is recognized for his ability to capture specific moments and visualize places of the past through his paintings. The exhibition A Sense of Time: The Historical Art of L. F. Tantillo highlights the artist's forty-year career and brings together a selection of over 90 works of art by one of the most noted painters of historical subjects and marine views of our time.

Having spent his life in the Hudson Valley, most of Tantillo's work portrays the sites and events that shaped the history of New York State, from pre-European contact Iroquois villages to Dutch settlement and continuing to the development of railroads and the construction of iron bridges across the Hudson River. By looking at a single Tantillo painting, a viewer can be transported back in time to when the Hudson River was a major highway with vessels of all shapes and sizes plying the waters or imagine how seventeenth and eighteenth-century Albany, Kingston, and Manhattan may have looked. Tantillo's painting of Fort Orange gives us a sense of what the earliest settlement of what is now Albany looked like in 1635 while his painting of a c. 1880 Hudson River icehouse depicts an important industry that no longer exists. He also envisions nineteenth-century shores of Troy and Rondout jammed with steamships, breathes life into steam engines pulling into railroad stations, and captures the energy of twentieth-century Grumman airplanes soaring through clouds.

As an artist, Tantillo is known for his attention to detail and historical accuracy. Before a painting, Tantillo meticulously researches his subject to ensure the accuracy of the painting's details and setting. The exhibition pairs some of Tantillo's works with preparatory sketches, models, and videos about the artist's process. A Sense of Time, features 97 works of art from fifty three institutions and collectors. 

About L. F. Tantillo

Len Tantillo was born in 1946 in upstate New York and attended the Rhode Island School of Design. From 1969 to 1976 he worked as an architectural designer and acquired a working knowledge of building design and construction. During his apprenticeship the focus of his work shifted to visual presentation and in 1976, Tantillo began working as a free-lance architectural illustrator. In 1980, he was commissioned to depict a series of 19th century structures from archeological artifacts and historic documents. Similar projects followed and in 1984, Tantillo left commercial art and began the full-time pursuit of historical fine art. He has spent the past 40 years creating numerous historical and marine paintings, which have continued to draw a wide audience. His work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Albany Institute of History & Art, Historic Huguenot Street, Fenimore Art Museum, Excelsior College, and in many other public collections. In 2009, the Westfries Museum, Hoorn, Netherlands exhibited 50 of his works in the exhibition Hollanders and the Hudson: The Paintings of L.F. Tantillo. He is a fellow of the American Society of Marine Artists and the New York Academy of History. Tantillo’s studio is located in southern Rensselaer County in upstate New York.

Virtual Visit

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Exhibition Support

Major funding has been provided by Bruce and Jenny McKinney.

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This program is sponsored as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.


Leading support has been provided by Donald and Ann Eberle, Mr. William M. Harris and Ms. Holly A. Katz, Vicary and Peter Thomas, Richard and Karen Nicholson, George and Kathleen McNamee, Mr. Alan P. Goldberg, Peter and Rose-Marie Ten Eyck, Evelyn Trebilcock, Daniel Wulff, Jan and Stan Smith, and Douglas L. Cohn, D.V.M.

Season exhibition and program support is provided by Phoebe Powell Bender, Mr. and Mrs. George R. Hearst III, Charles M. Liddle III, Lois and David Swawite, and the Carl E. Touhey Foundation, Inc.


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Program and exhibition support is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Morning Mist on the Hudson, Albany, c. 1790, by Len Tantillo, 1999, oil on canvas, private collection