The Boardwalk (The Merry-Go-Round)
Black, salmon, and blue crayon and tan wash over graphite on slightly textured cream wove (Natoma) paper
Gift of A. Conger Goodyear; D.940.20
One of the greatest realists of the twentieth century, George Bellows frequently drew artistic inspiration from public amusements, where ethnic and social classes mingled and he felt most keenly the gritty vitality of modern life. Bellows first honed his reportorial eye under the guidance of Robert Henri, his instructor at the New York School of Art and the intellectual leader of the progressive urban realist artists. Like others in Henri’s circle, including John Sloan, William Glackens, and Everett Shinn, Bellows found artistic inspiration in his everyday surroundings, especially in New York. Although he was based in the city, Bellows made several summer trips to the Maine coast between 1911 and 1916. Here he depicts the boardwalk at Old Orchard Beach, Maine, setting up a contrast between the gaily lit concessions and the dark, slightly forbidding atmosphere outside. Bellows only faintly rendered the enclosed carousel itself, emphasizing instead the apparent vulnerability of the two respectably dressed women who stroll the boardwalk, huddled together. From the carousel entryway a loitering man appears to leer at the women, while the youngsters behind the concession stand also shoot glances their way. One of the female strollers, as if assessing the security of her surroundings or the intentions of the male onlookers, warily directs her gaze out and back. Echoing perhaps these more veiled human investigations, a trotting beagle, nose to the ground, openly prowls the boardwalk ahead. Bellows may have used this drawing as a study for a painting that was never completed, but its degree of finish and bordered placement on its sheet suggest that the artist valued it for itself as well.
Last Updated: 4/29/09