George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925)
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George Bellows was an American painter, known for his urban scenes of New York City. Bellows was born in Columbus, Ohio and studied at Ohio State University. As a student Bellows was a sportsman, encouraged to purse a career as a baseball player. While juggling academics and athletics, Bellows began to receive illustration assignments. It became clear to Bellows that he wanted to become a painter. Before graduating from Ohio State, Bellows moved to New York City to begin formal, artistic training.
In New York Bellows studied at the New York School of Art under the instruction of Robert Henri and other members of the Ashcan School. Bellows showed incredible talent as a painter and was soon able to rent his own studio. Bellows started exhibiting with other descendents of the Ashcan School, who painted raw, urban life.
In 1909, Bellows agreed to teach at the Art Students League of New York, but continued to spend most of his time in his studio. While Bellows received mixed reviews from critics, most promoted his work on a national level.
Bellows began to exhibit frequently, which fueled his studio productivity. Bellows’ paintings explored working-class neighborhoods in New York City, illustrating the difficulties of urban life, harsh winters and densely populated streets. In addition to Bellows’ winter scenes, he is well-known for his paintings of urban boxing matches. The boxing paintings have become iconic images in American visual culture.
As Bellows’ reputation grew, he began to receive portrait commissions from wealthy patrons. While Bellows was accepted by the mainstream, he associated with anarchist radicals known as the “Lyrical Left”. Bellows also contributed illustrations to a socialist journal, “The Masses”.
When the United States entered World War I, Bellows supported the military action and created a series of lithographs titled “The Germans Arrive”. In 1916 Bellows set up a lithography press in his studio and completed more than one hundred lithographs.
In Bellows’ later career he made frequent summer trips to Woodstock, New York and the Matinicus Islands in Maine, where he painted seascapes and landscapes. Bellows continued to exhibit and make cameo-teaching appearances in New York City and Chicago, until the end of his life.
Bellows is now regarded as one of the most influential, American painters of the twentieth century. His paintings and prints belong to major American collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. There is also a strong collection of Bellows’ work in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. Do you think you own a painting by George Bellows? Contact us. We are the experts on George Bellows.