In addition to his renowned collection of 19th-century French impressionist paintings, highly sought after by major museums across the country, Chester Dale also admired and collected works by the American painter
Dale’s gift of Both Members of This Club could not have been more significant for the future of American modernism at the Gallery. The painting’s brutal, shocking subject matter and slashing, expressionistic brushwork broke decisively from the pieties of the Victorian past and embodied the raw violence and new energies that modernism had unleashed. No other American painting of the first decade of the 20th century declared its modernity more forcefully or expressed more insistently how important the achievements of Bellows’s generation were and would be to the history of American art. Moreover, no other painting could have revealed so plainly the arbitrariness of the rule that prevented the inclusion of American modernists in the National Gallery of Art collection until well after their deaths.