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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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John Sloan, American, 1871-1951

Self-Portrait, Working
Oil, Windsor & Newton Copal Varnish, wax finish on canvas
Gift of John and Helen Farr Sloan; P.952.43


Around 1913, John Sloan started to focus largely on portraits and figure studies, as opposed to the narrative paintings of everyday urban life for which he previously had been known. This jaunty self-portrait (one of several he made in 1916) reflects not only Sloan’s fascination with the genre but, through its bold composition and vivid colors, his growing respect for the stylistic innovations of European postimpressionism. The artist’s intense gaze and confident pose in this work convey the seriousness of Sloan’s professional ambitions, while his tousled hair and flamboyant tie suggest the more casual, slightly bohemian persona he adopted among his circle of friends in New York’s Greenwich Village. The image contrasts with two other self-portraits he painted the same year, both of which are more static in composition and conservative in their representation of one of New York’s more progressive artists and liberal thinkers. Helen Farr Sloan—herself an artist—gave this portrait to Dartmouth in both her name and her husband’s a year after Sloan died in Hanover, in recognition of his close association with the College.

Last Updated: 4/17/09