GEORGE WESLEY BELLOWS (1882–1925)
Portrait of Elizabeth Alexander, 1924
Oil on canvas, 53 x 43 in.
Signed and inscribed (at lower right): Geo Bellows; (on the back, prior to lining): Portrait Elizabeth Alexander / Geo. Bellows / 146 E. 19 St. / NY
George Bellows was one of the leading American exponents of realist painting during the first quarter of the 20th century, and, like many of his fellow artists, often drew on contemporary life as the subject matter for his paintings and lithographs. Bellows’s works are characterized by a strong compositional order and harmonious color arrangements. One of the greatest critical thinkers in American art, Bellows experimented with several theoretical painting methods over the years, often devoting himself to new color and formal theories, only to suddenly change direction, sometimes retaining certain elements but often discarding ideas entirely from his working process. Consequently, Bellows’s oeuvre has distinct, if short, periods, each of which reflect a different facet of the artist’s interests at the time.
Bellows’s varied interests led him to explore different genres as his mood suited him, but portraiture was one constant throughout his career. Bellows also often used poses reminiscent of the works of the American master portraitists, William Merritt Chase, John Singer Sargent, and his mentor and friend, Henri. For Bellows, portraiture was a vehicle for artistic exploration.