Overview

Both Members of This Club was inspired by the fights Bellows attended at Tom Sharkey's Athletic Club in New York. At the time, public boxing matches were illegal in the city. Private organizations like Sharkey's made prospective fighters temporary members of the "club" on the night of the event to circumvent the law.

In the painting one can almost sense the atmosphere of stale cigar smoke and body heat that typified these back–room bouts. At the match's frenzied climax, the victorious fighter on the right lunges forward, while the nearly vanquished boxer on the left, his face contorted with pain, weakly resists the blow and momentarily postpones his imminent defeat. Bellows' rapid, slashing brushwork, his characteristic use of dramatic lighting and lurid color, his selection of stark angles and dramatic close–ups all enhance the scene's immediacy. Members of the audience, their faces horribly disfigured by vicarious passion, display an animalistic bloodlust that reveals much about the darker aspects of human nature. The artist is suggesting that the men in the ring, teamed in their physical struggle, also must contend with the larger, perhaps even more brutal adversary of social injustice.

Inscription

lower right: Geo Bellows

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

The artist [1882-1925]; by inheritance to his wife, Emma S. Bellows [1884-1959]; purchased 29 September 1944 through (H.V. Allison & Co., New York) by Chester Dale [1883-1962], New York; gift 1944 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1910
Exhibition of Independent Artists, Galleries at 29-31 West 35th Street, New York, April 1910, no. 53.
1910
Fifth Annual Exhibition of Selected Paintings by American Artists, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, May-September 1910, no. 12.
1910
Fifth Annual Exhibition of Selected Paintings by American Artists, The City Art Museum, St. Louis, September-November 1910, no. 11.
1910
One Hundred and Fifth Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, January-March 1910, no. 338.
1917
Exhibition of Paintings [by 12 different artists], The MacDowell Club, New York, 1917, no. 3.
1925
Memorial Exhibition of the Work of George Bellows, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1925, no. 10, repro.
1940
Thirty-Six Paintings by George Bellows, Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Ohio, 1940, no cat.
1944
Art in Progress [Fifteenth Anniversary Exhibition], The Museum of Modern Art, New York, May-October 1944, unnumbered, repro. 39.
1944
Paintings by George Bellows, H.V. Allison & Co., Inc., New York, March-April 1944, unnumbered checklist.
1946
George Bellows: Paintings, Drawings and Prints, Art Institute of Chicago, January-March 1946, no. 6, repro.
1946
Robert Henri & Five of his Pupils, The Century Association, New York, April-June 1946, no. 6, repro.
1957
George Bellows: A Retrospective Exhibition, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1957, no. 14, repro.
1965
The Chester Dale Bequest, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1965, unnumbered checklist.
1982
Bellows: The Boxing Pictures, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1982, no. 3, repro.

Bibliography

1952
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Great Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1952: 180, color repro.
1959
Bouton, Margaret. American Painting in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1959 (Booklet Number One in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.): 40, color repro.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 328, repro.
1965
_Paintings other than French in the Chester Dale Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 48, repro.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:502, color repro.
1970
_American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 16, repro.
1978
King, Marian. Adventures in Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1978: 109, pl. 70.
1979
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 125-126, pl. 113.
1980
_American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 26, repro.
1980
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 17, no. 53, color repro.
1981
Williams 1981, 205, color repro. 220.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 571, no. 869, color repro.
1988
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. Rev. ed. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988: 166, no. 60, color repro.
1990
Kelly, Frankin. "George Bellows' Shore House." Studies in the History of Art 37 (1990): 121, repro. no. 7.
1991
Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 239, 242, color repro.
1992
_American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 29, repro.
1992
_National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 246, repro.
1994
Craven, Wayne. American Art: History and Culture. New York, 1994: 433, fig. 29.12.
1997
Hughes, Robert. American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America. New York, 1997: 334, color fig. 203.
1998
Pinkus, Karen. “Sport." In Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art. Edited by Helene E. Roberts. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 2:855, 856.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 404, no. 333, color repro.
2005
Mathews, Nancy Mowll., et al. Moving Pictures; American Art and Early Film, 1880-1910. (Exh. cat. Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown; Reynolda House, Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem; Grey Art Gallery & Study Center, New York University; The Phillips Collection, Washington; 2005-2007.) Manchester, 2005: 114 fig. 178, 115.
2011
Corebett, David Peters. "Camden Town and the Ashcan: Difference, Similarity and the "Anglo-American" in the Work of Walter Sickert and John Sloan." Art History 34, no. 4 (September 2011): 791.

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