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National Gallery Unveils George Bellows

Aug 08, 2012 11:30AM ● By Anonymous


Bellows was born in 1882 and became famous for the way he painted the world around him. Robert Henri, leader of the Ashcan School in New York in the early 1900s, mentored Bellows. He was brave enough to paint the not-so-glamorous parts of American life, such as New York’s poor immigrant population and the dangerous excavation site of the Pennsylvania Railroad Station where men worked.

“George Bellows is arguably the most important figure in the generation of artists who negotiated the transition from the Victorian to the modern era in American culture,” says Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery of Art.

Bellows is mostly remembered for his depiction of boxing fight scenes. In 1912, Bellows began doing a lot of work involving sporting events. His realistic paintings of boxing matches really captured the essence of the fight.

Some of his lesser known work shown in the exhibit includes his paintings of Maine seascapes that he did during the summers from 1913 to 1916. Bellows also did a lot of work dealing with World War I. His other work consists of women portraits, Georgia prisons, tennis courts of Newport, shorelines of the East and Hudson Rivers, among a wide variety of other subjects.

“The exhibit in a clear way articulates Bellows’ career. It is a way for people to see the shape of Bellows’ career—the richness, complexity, and whole universe of his work,” Brock says. “One of the pleasures, even for people that know Bellows, is they will find things here they didn’t know about.”

Bellows died suddenly at the age of 42 from complications with appendicitis, bringing an untimely end to his artistic works.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to introduce younger generations to an American artist,” Brock says.

Upon closing in D.C. after its four month run, the exhibit will move to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and then to the Royal Academy of Arts in London. For more information visit

Top: Stag at Sharkey's, 1909, oil on canvas. The Cleveland Museum of Art.
Bottom: Tennis at Newport, 1920, oil on canvas. James W. Ward and Frances G. McGlothlin