John French Sloan (1871-1951)
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John French Sloan was an American artist of the Ashcan School in New York City. Sloan was born in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania but spent much of his childhood in Philadelphia. Sloan always had a passion for drawing and painting and was encouraged by his family members to pursue the arts. Coincidentally, Sloan was in the same high school class as well-known painters William Glackens and Albert C. Barnes.
In 1888 Sloan had to drop out of high school in order to support his family. Sloan made some of his first paintings while working as a cashier at the bookstore, Porter and Coates. Sloan was able to sell some of his etchings at the bookstore for additional pay. Eventually Sloan as offered a position designing greeting cards and calendars. Sloan became increasingly interested in working as an artist and started studying art at night at the Spring Garden Institute.
For several years, Sloan continued to do various jobs as a commercial artist and illustrator. Sloan continued his studies, eventually enrolling at the Pennsylvania Academy of Design where he met his artistic mentor, Robert Henri.
As a member of The Eight, Sloan became a leading figure in the Ashcan School of realist artists. The Ashcan school was known for their urban genre paintings, which did not idealize environments. In New York, Sloan opened a studio in Greenwich Village where he painted many of his most famous pieces. Sloan did not sell his paintings frequently and continued to work as an illustrator for the Philadelphia Press, Collier’s Weekly, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Weekly and the Saturday Evening Post. Politically, Sloan sided with the Socialist party and contributed to their publication, “The Masses”.
In 1913, Sloan exhibited in the Armory Show, exhibiting etchings and paintings. The show caught the attention of important collectors and Sloan began to sell more work. Albert C. Barnes is known to have been the fourth collector to purchase one of Sloan’s paintings.
In 1914 Sloan started teaching at the Art Students League, which enabled him to spend summers painting in Gloucester Massachusetts. The outdoor setting of New England, led to more rural themes in Sloan’s work. In 1918 Sloan began to spend summers in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he painted desert landscape scenes. Sloan was greatly inspired by Mexican Art and invited José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera to participate in their first New York show at the Society of Independent Artists.
Sloan’s urban genre paintings and landscapes are now highly regarded by collectors. Sloan’s work is in major museums and private collections across the country. Do you think you own a painting by John Sloan? Contact us. We are the experts on John Sloan.