John Sloan, Turning out the Light, an etching

United States of America, AD 1905

John Sloan (1871 – 1951) painter, printmaker and teacher, first took up etching as a self-taught adolescent.  Moving to New York in 1904, he became part of a group of eight artists, better known as “The Ashcan School”, who focused on creating images of urban realism. Between 1891 and 1940 Sloan produced some 300 etchings. He was also one of the first chroniclers of the American scene and wrote about printmaking and the etching technique.

This etching comes from the series of 10 prints entitled New York City Life, recording the lives of the ordinary inhabitants in less affluent areas of Manhattan. The prints had a mixed reception at the time and a number were rejected from an exhibition of the American Watercolor Society as ‘vulgar’ and ‘indecent’.

The mood of Turning out the Light is one of anticipation and intimacy: the woman glances down at the man lying stretched out on their unmade bed, while her discarded stockings are draped over the bed frame. The intimacy is heightened by the strong contrast between the densely worked areas of cross-hatching in the deeper shadows and the unetched blank areas of the light.

P. Morse, John Sloan's Prints (London and New Haven, Yale University Press, 1969)

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Image: © Kraushaar Galleries, New York

Height: 12.5 cm
Width: 17.5 cm

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Donated by Helen Farr Sloan


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