National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The City from Greenwich Village John Sloan (artist)
American, 1871 - 1951
The City from Greenwich Village, 1922
oil on canvas
overall: 66 x 85.7 cm (26 x 33 3/4 in.)
Gift of Helen Farr Sloan
1970.1.1
Not on View
From the Tour: American Realists of the Early 1900s
Object 4 of 4

John Sloan, once a newspaper illustrator in Philadelphia, became a painter at the urging of Robert Henri and moved to New York. The apparent spontaneity in Sloan’s City from Greenwich Village is deceptive. Noting it was “painted from memory,” Sloan made more preparatory studies for this canvas than for any of his other pictures.

One pencil sketch shows the elevated train tracks at the slight angle they would create from a sixth-story rooftop. In the final oil painting, the railway is pushed down at a steeper perspective, opening the foreground into a vast space of reflections off wet pavement. The soaring Woolworth Building dominates the distant skyscrapers. Since that shimmering vision actually would not have been visible from this low level, the skyline derives from other studies done at higher elevations.

Sloan described the personally meaningful site: “Looking south over lower Sixth Avenue from the roof of my Washington Place studio, on a winter evening. The distant lights of the great office buildings downtown are seen in the gathering darkness. The triangular loft building on the right had contained my studio for three years before.”

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