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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

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 catalogue.
1944
Art in Progress: Fifteenth Anniversary Exhibition: Painting, Sculpture, Prints, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, May-October 1944, unnumbered catalogue, repro. 39.
1944
Paintings by George Bellows, H.V. Allison & Co., 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, fig. 29, pl. 5.
2012
George Bellows, National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2012-2013, pl. 18 (shown only in Washington).
Bibliography
n.d.
Peck, Glenn C. George Bellows' Catalogue Raisonné. H.V. Allison & Co. URL: http://www.hvallison.com. Accessed 16 August 2016.
1936
Barrows, Edward M. "George Bellows, Athlete." The North American Review 242, no. 2 (1 December 1936): 297.
1936
Salpeter, Harry. "George Bellows, Native." Esquire 5, no. 4 (April 1936): 137.
1942
Boswell, Peyton, Jr. George Bellows. New York, 1942: 17.
1945
Mechlin, Leila. "In the Art World: Two Paintings by George Bellows Acquired by National Gallery." The Washington Star (7 January 1945): C:6.
1945
Watson, Jane. "Two Bellows Gifts Made Here." The Washington Post (7 January 1945): 11S.
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
Morgan, Charles H. George Bellows. Painter of America. New York, 1965: 101-102, 104, repro. 323.
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.
1969
Young, Mahonri Sharp. "George Bellows: Master of the Prize Fight." Apollo 89 (February 1969): 138 fig. 8, 139.
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 16, repro.
1971
Braider, Donald. George Bellows and the Ashcan School of Painting. New York, 1971: 54, fig. 8.
1973
Young, Mahonri Sharp. The Eight. New York, 1973: 42, color pl. 11.
1974
Gerdts, William H. The Great American Nude: A History in Art. New York, 1974: 158-162, fig. 8-5.
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, William James. A Heritage of American Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1981: 205, color repro. 220.
1982
Carmean, E.A., Jr., et al. Bellows: The Boxing Pictures. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1982: no. 3, fig. 29, pl. 5, 32-36, 77-78.
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.
1988
Zurier, Rebecca. "Hey Kids: Children in the Comics & the Art of George Bellows." Print Collector's Newsletter 18, no. 6 (January-February 1988): 200-201, 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
Adams, Henry. "George Bellows [exh. review]." The Burlington Magazine 134, no. 1075 (October 1992): 686.
1992
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 29, repro.
1992
Doezema, Marianne. George Bellows and Urban America. New Haven and London, 1992: 101-113, fig. 44, color pl. 11.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 246, repro.
1992
Quick, Michael, Jane Myers, Marianne Doezema, and Franklin Kelly. The Paintings of George Bellows. Exh. cat. Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Columbus (Ohio) Museum of Art; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, 1992-1993. New York, 1992: 21-22, figs. 14 and 15.
1994
Craven, Wayne. American Art: History and Culture. New York, 1994: 433, fig. 29.12.
1994
Weinberg, H. Barbara, Doreen Bolger, and David Park Curry. American Impressionism and Realism: The Painting of Modern Life, 1885-1915. Exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth; Denver Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art. New York, 1994: 240, fig. 225.
1995
Clark, Carol, and Allen Guttmann. "Artists and Athletes." Journal of Sports History 22 (Summer 1995): repro. 103, 104-105.
1995
Zurier, Rebecca, Robert W. Snyder, and Virginia M. Mecklenburg. Metropolitan Lives: The Ashcan Artists and Their New York. Exh. cat. National Museum of American Art, Washington. Washington and New York, 1995: 46-47, fig. 44.
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.
2012
Brock, Charles, et al. George Bellows. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2012-2013. Washington and New York, 2012: 10-11, 23, 71, 73, 77, 78, 215, pl. 18.
2013
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.
2016
National Gallery of Art. Highlights from the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Washington, 2016: 274, repro.