An athlete as well as an artist at the University of Ohio, Bellows arrived in New York to study with Robert Henri in 1904. Henri urged his students to paint expressively and to seek subjects in daily life. Bellows responded to these lessons with vigor, becoming Henri's disciple and lifelong friend. A talented printmaker, Bellows contributed illustrations to the Socialist periodical “The Masses,” even while his career blossomed with his election to the conservative National Academy of Design.
What are the challenges and benefits of painting from life?
Bellows taught a life drawing class at the Art Students League of New York in 1910—presumably the students in this class were asked to paint nude models. The quick execution of this painting is recorded by the rich, broad strokes that define the figure’s back, and the single stroke that makes up the calf and heel of the figure’s right leg. Supposedly, this work was a demonstration piece for Bellows’ students, and it shows the artist’s intimate knowledge of anatomy and masterful technique.
Gift of Lyman Jennings