George Bellows, A Stag at Sharkey’s, a lithograph

United States of America, AD 1917

George Bellows (1882–1925) attended the New York School of Art where he was taught by Robert Henri and John Sloan. He was part of a group of artists known as “The Eight” or the Ashcan School, who focused on images of urban realism. 

Bellows was introduced to lithography by the printer George Miller in 1916 and the subjects of his prints ranged from themes of sport and New York street life to studies of the nude and portraits. From 1918–19 he collaborated with Bolton Brown as his printer. By the time of his death Bellows had produced some 193 prints and his reputation as one of America’s most significant lithographers and painters has continued to grow.

A Stag at Sharkey’s, produced in 1917, is one of the most famous images of twentieth-century American printmaking. The scene shows a prize fight, known as a ‘stag’, being held at a private club. The boxers are arranged in a strong, pyramid-like composition, recalling classical sculpture. The force of their action is illustrated by interlocking forms and bold diagonal lines. The spectators are shown in detail and depict a range of social types: from the office clerk in tie to the worker in shirtsleeves. Bellows is believed to have included himself as the second spectator to the referee’s right, with just his eye and balding head peeping over the raised floor.

L. Mason, The Lithographs of George Bellows, revised (San Francisco, Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1992)

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Height: 47.5 cm
Width: 61.0 cm

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