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Maker(s):Bellows, George Wesley
Culture:American (1882 - 1925)
Title:Pennsylvania Excavation
Date Made:1907
Materials:oil on canvas
Place Made:United States
Measurements:stretcher: 34 in x 44 in; 86.36 cm x 111.76 cm
Narrative Inscription:  signed in black oil at lower left: Geo. Bellows
Accession Number:  SC 2010.11
Credit Line:Gift of Mary Gordon Roberts, class of 1960, in honor of her 50th reunion
Museum Collection:  Smith College Museum of Art

Currently on view

outdoors; winter at excavation sight, large pit covered with snow, two figures working at lower right, other figures near a small black train engine with white smoke coming from its stack, white smoke spewing from mid right near edge, cityscape in background under grey sky

Label Text:
In 1907, a large swath of Midtown Manhattan, between 7th and 8th Avenues, was being excavated to build Pennsylvania Station. Such an excavation may have been regarded by most onlookers as an eyesore. Yet, Bellows painted his picture of the excavation, showing the massive crevasse in the earth almost like a geological feature. Bellows was a follower of the Ashcan School, an early twentieth-century artistic movement centered in New York that showed the city as it was, for better or worse. The painting is striking today, but was absolutely revolutionary in 1907, when it was displayed at the annual exhibition of the National Academy of Design in New York and received praise from many critics. As a result of works such as this, Bellows was elected a full Academician (member) of the National Academy in 1913 at the age of 31.

It is interesting to note that Bellows’s Pennsylvania Excavation depicts a site not far from where Saint-Gaudens’s original weathervane statue of Diana of the Tower was shown at Madison Square Garden. Likewise, the two paintings by Childe Hassam also depict this area, showing scenes of Madison Square Park. All of the scenes of New York City on display in this gallery were created at different times, but all of them show the development of an area of New York City in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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