The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts: John French Sloan

25 Apr

John French Sloan, The Haymarket (1907)

John French Sloan, Pink and Blue (1915)

Note: click on any image to enlarge

Here is the latest installment in my ongoing chronicle of the artists of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia — the lodestar of modern American realist painting.  The Academy’s great modern realist tradition started with the incomparable Thomas Eakins and his venerable protege, artist and teacher Thomas Anshutz.  One of Anshutz’s most prominent students was Robert Henri, featured in my last blog post.

Another of Anshutz’s most important students was John French Sloan (1871-1951).   Along with Henri, Sloan was one of the founders of the so-called “Ashcan School” of realist painting, otherwise known as “The Eight.”  Ashcan School artists were interested in unvarnished urban realism, common people, and life in ordinary neighborhoods.

John French Sloan, Self Portrait (1890)

John French Sloan, Wake of the Ferry (1907)

Along with Henri, Sloan is a great favorite of mine and his remarkable work is featured in several of my prior blog posts.  The Ashcan School moniker was originally a term of derision employed by members of the then-prevailing art establishment.  Sloan, in particular, despised it.  Today it is a term of praise, and I certainly intend it that way.

John French Sloan, Gladys Carter (1916)

John French Sloan, Backyards, Greenwich Village (1914)

John French Sloan, Jefferson Market (1917, retouched 1922)

Many of the Ashcan School artists, Sloan included, had experience as newspaper illustrators in Philadelphia.  They were popularized as a result of a famous  group showing of their work at the Macbeth Gallery in New York in 1908. The show later  toured the United States under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, with Sloan as curator.

John French Sloan, Pigeons (1910)

John French Sloan, Chinese Restaurant (1909)

John French Sloan, Fifth Avenue, New York (date unknown)

Sloan, in particular, had a gift for capturing the essence of neighborhood life in the city.  From brilliant cityscapes, to intimate portrayals of children at play, to women doing the daily washing, to street and tavern scenes — Sloan found the epic in everyday life.  It is no accident that he is one of my favorites!

John French Sloan, Travelling Carnival, Santa Fe (1924)

2 Responses to “The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts: John French Sloan”

  1. Lee Mamunes October 9, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

    Hi Bob, I really like your blog. Although ny main art interest is Edward Hopper, I like all the artists in his time, esp. John Sloan. Hopper wrote an article, “John Sloan and the Philadelphians” (The Arts, 1927) where he discusses Sloan’s influence on his own art, particularly on his etchings and the major influence, Robert Henri. Look forward to your next post. Thanks, Lee

    • bobbalouie October 13, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

      Thanks Lee! I’ll have to read that Hopper article. It sounds very interesting.

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