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.
lower right: Geo Bellows
Marks and Labels
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 of Independent Artists, Galleries at 29-31 West 35th Street, New York, April 1910, no. 53.
- Fifth Annual Exhibition of Selected Paintings by American Artists, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, May-September 1910, no. 12.
- Fifth Annual Exhibition of Selected Paintings by American Artists, The City Art Museum, St. Louis, September-November 1910, no. 11.
- One Hundred and Fifth Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, January-March 1910, no. 338.
- Exhibition of Paintings [by 12 different artists], The MacDowell Club, New York, 1917, no. 3.
- Memorial Exhibition of the Work of George Bellows, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1925, no. 10, repro.
- Thirty-Six Paintings by George Bellows, Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Ohio, 1940, no cat.
- Art in Progress [Fifteenth Anniversary Exhibition], The Museum of Modern Art, New York, May-October 1944, unnumbered, repro. 39.
- Paintings by George Bellows, H.V. Allison & Co., Inc., New York, March-April 1944, unnumbered checklist.
- George Bellows: Paintings, Drawings and Prints, Art Institute of Chicago, January-March 1946, no. 6, repro.
- Robert Henri & Five of his Pupils, The Century Association, New York, April-June 1946, no. 6, repro.
- George Bellows: A Retrospective Exhibition, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1957, no. 14, repro.
- The Chester Dale Bequest, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1965, unnumbered checklist.
- Bellows: The Boxing Pictures, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1982, no. 3, repro.
- George Bellows, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2012 - 2013, no. 18.
- Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Great Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1952: 180, color repro.
- 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.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 328, repro.
- Paintings other than French in the Chester Dale Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 48, repro.
- 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.
- American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 16, repro.
- King, Marian. Adventures in Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1978: 109, pl. 70.
- Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 125-126, pl. 113.
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 26, repro.
- Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 17, no. 53, color repro.
- Williams 1981, 205, color repro. 220.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 571, no. 869, color repro.
- 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.
- Kelly, Frankin. "George Bellows' Shore House." Studies in the History of Art 37 (1990): 121, repro. no. 7.
- Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 239, 242, color repro.
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 29, repro.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 246, repro.
- Craven, Wayne. American Art: History and Culture. New York, 1994: 433, fig. 29.12.
- Hughes, Robert. American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America. New York, 1997: 334, color fig. 203.
- 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.
- Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 404, no. 333, color repro.
- 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.
- 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.
- Corbett, David Peters. The American Experiment: George Bellows and the Ashcan Painters, with Katherine Bourguignon and Christopher Riopelle. London, 2013: 21, 22, color fig. 6.