In addition to street life and sports, George Bellows drew artistic inspiration from his family. Painted in Carmel, California, this affectionate portrait of his daughter, Anne, exhibits sharp contrasts between the deep, rich black of her dress and the soft, pale tones of her skin. The flowers on Anne’s lap underscore her youthful beauty, while the rich golden hues filling the background enhance and immortalize her cherubic appearance. The artist’s nearly palpable affection for his daughter owes something to the occasion for which he painted it: the painter arrived in California in advance of his family, and the subsequent reunion inspired a spate of new portraits of loved ones. The composition’s rather highly saturated palette can also be attributed in part to Bellows’ enhanced familiarity with aspects of European modernism such as Fauvism.
A member of the “Ash Can” school, Bellows is known for his urban realist style and for his portrayal of subjects such as boxing, street scenes, and the savagery of war. He also drew inspiration from his family and from the families of other artists living with him in Woodstock, New York. In this portrait of his daughter, Bellows uses a sharp contrast of color in the deep, rich black of Anne’s dress against the softly pale tones of her skin. The flowers on Anne’s lap bring youthful note to her portrait while the rich golden hues of the background add to her cherubic appearance. With these contrasting colors and idealized classical detail, Bellows immortalized of his daughter’s ephemeral youth.
Caroline Darmody, Class of 2010
In this portrait, Ohio-born George Bellows, perhaps best known for his boldly painted scenes of New York City tenements and illegal prizefights, turned an unflinching eye upon his six year-old daughter. Anne in Black Velvet belongs to a group of sixty-nine works by Bellows at the Mead, complemented by the George W. Bellows Papers and the Charles H. Morgan Papers on George W. Bellows in the Frost Library.
EEB, 2008: 1821 Society brochure