National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Lone Tenement George Bellows (artist)
American, 1882 - 1925
The Lone Tenement, 1909
oil on canvas
overall: 91.8 x 122.3 cm (36 1/8 x 48 1/8 in.) framed: 123.2 x 153.4 x 12.7 cm (48 1/2 x 60 3/8 x 5 in.)
Chester Dale Collection
1963.10.83
On View
From the Tour: American Realists of the Early 1900s
Object 3 of 4

The Lone Tenement generates both a powerful image of urban dislocation and a poignant allegory of time's passage. The last remaining building underneath the approaches to the new Queensboro Bridge stands alone, everything else in the neighborhood having long since been razed. The oppressive roadway crushes down from the top of the picture, and its span's dark shadow against the red brick tenement seems to foretell the apartment building's doom.

The whole composition directs attention to the bridge's architectural mass. Pointed up toward the black roadway from below, a system of vertical elements marches left to right. A factory smokestack, two lifeless tree trunks, the masts of a moored ship, the slender tenement itself, and smoke from a ship on the East River all lead across the canvas to the bridge's heavy pier. The powerful design and the superb handling of earthy umbers, ochers, and siennas make it difficult to believe that George Bellows had moved to New York and begun painting only five years before.

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