The National Gallery’s first major American painting is George Bellows’ 1912 work Men of the Docks.
Purchased from Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia, the painting cost a cool $25.5m – to buy it the National Gallery used some of the fund established by the late Sir Paul Getty but also received support from anonymous sources in buying the painting.
The work was made in a period of experiment and innovation in the early years of the 20th century, and its acquisition marks a new direction in the Gallery’s acquisition policy – seeking to represent paintings in the Western European tradition, rather than solely those made by artists working in Western Europe. I gather Bellows owed much to Manet and Goya.
Men of the Docks is the final and largest in a series of Bellows paintings of workers gathered on a frigid winter day on the New York waterfront. It is on display alongside major Impressionist works by Monet and Pissarro.
For more information see the National Gallery’s press release.