Movement: American Realism
Education: New York School of Art
George Bellows's Famous Artworks
“May Day in Central Park,” 1905
“The Knock-Out,” 1907
“Polo Crowd,” 1910
“Evening Swell,” 1911
“Men of the Docks,” 1912
“Dock Builders,” 1916
“The Studio,” 1919
“Tennis at Newport,” 1920
“Two Women,” 1924
George Bellows was an American Realist painter, noted for his association with Robert Henri and the Ashcan School, an artistic movement that portrayed urban life in New York City. He was one of the most successful painters of his generation, despite the brevity of his life and is known to have exhibited a plethora of artworks in several museums
and galleries worldwide.
George Bellows's Early Life
Born into a religious household in Columbus in autumn of 1882, George Wesley Bellows was the only child of Anna Wilhelmina Smith, the daughter of a whaling captain, and building contractor George Bellows, both of whom were approaching the middle age when they married. With half a century between him and his parents, the generational gap was difficult to bridge and his interests varied from their ideas and expectations. His mother encouraged a clerical vocation, reading aloud from the Bible on Sundays when he was forbidden from leaving home.
To stave off bullies in high school, Bellows took an active role in sports and showed promise in baseball. In 1901, he enrolled at the Ohio State University on an athletic quota and joined both the baseball and basketball teams, as well as the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
George Bellows's Education
As a freshman, Bellows was prohibited from preexisting rules from taking courses in art, but his inclination towards visual design was rapidly growing and he had little interest in other academic subjects. He waited until his sophomore year to attend the university’s painting classes and eventually became the primary illustrator for his college publication, the “Makio” while accepting commissions from local magazines for commercial design.
In 1904, he dropped out of university to study at the New York School of Art under rivals Robert Henri and William Merritt Chase (who founded the Chase School which later became the Parsons School of Design). Bellows impressed his tutors with his technical ability and chosen subject matter and became somewhat of a protégé to avant-garde Henri, who introduced him to socialism and the writing of George Bernard Shaw. It wasn’t long before he was invited to the exclusive “Tuesday Evenings” – intimate studio meetings between the aging painter and his closest friends and students wherein they were allowed to view his collection and ongoing projects. As part of Henri’s inner circle, Bellows was inducted into the Ashcan School, a group of artists dedicated to capturing urban New York in all its aspects, even the unsavory. Under his mentor’s advisement, he abandoned drawings of ‘Gibson Girls’ and began capturing the life of the city from its street corners.
George Bellows's Brief Career
In winter of 1906, he rented his own studio in the Lincoln Arcade Building on Broadway and began work on a series of paintings of street urchins, including his first chef-d’oeuvre “The Cross-Eyed Boy”. George Bellows's work
during this time was prolific, perhaps because he was courting fellow art student Emma Story, whose father was a celebrated businessman from New Jersey. Story was a strong-willed woman who would not accept a marriage proposal unless it was reinforced by the down payment of a house.After a four-year engagement, the couple married in 1910.
Following a brief tenure as a teacher at the Art Students League, Bellows concentrated on advancing his career as a painter. Over the next decade, he participated in several national juried exhibitions and won a series of awards for his efforts. He became a member of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors in 1913 but withdrew his application after the Armory Show, disturbed by the trend of abstraction present in contemporary European and American art. It was the same year that Bellows became the youngest elected associate of the National Academy of Design.
George Bellows's Last Years
In 1917, he took up a teaching position at the Artists Colony in Carmel and two years later he moved on to the Art Institute of Chicago. He returned to New York in the early ’20s, bought a house in Woodstock for his wife and daughters and set up a squash club.
This idyllic life would not last, however, as Bellows passed away of a burst appendix in January of 1925. After his death, Emma Story and Robert Henri dedicated much of their time protecting and preserving his legacy, organizing a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1929, along with a catalog of his work. Art lovers can buy George Bellows's artworks online
George Bellows's Museums/Collections
Art Institute of Chicago
Dallas Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Gallery, London
The Phillips Collection, Washington DC
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
“George Bellows” by Charles Brock and Sarah Cash
“George Bellows: Painter with a Punch!” by Robert Burleigh
“George Bellows: An Artist in Action” by Mary Sayre Haverstock