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ID number:  BIRBI-2016.7
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Bellows, George (1882-1925)
Title / Object name:  The Life Class
Object type:  Print
Place made:  New York
Culture:  American
Date made:  1917
Materials:  Lithograph on laid Japan paper
Measurements:  Framed: 725 x 858 mm; unframed: 354 x 494 mm
Provenance:  Purchased 2016

The Life Class was one of a series of lithographs that Bellows produced with the printer George Miller. It may have been based on drawings made much earlier in his career, and it certainly relates to an earlier time. The potbelly stove and other features of the room resonate with photographs and other artists’ records of Robert Henri’s classroom at the New York School of Art. This was the scene of Bellows’s initiation into the art world, and of his immersion in Henri’s teaching. The lithograph recalls a vibrant, chaotic space of shared enterprise and spontaneous critique.

This is a later reflection on a pivotal period in the artist’s early
training. Numerous artists are shown working simultaneously,
but the central figure daubing paint onto his brush is thought to
be Bellows himself. The abundance of clutter and action in the
scene suggests a bustling classroom, full of creative innovation
and shared exploration. Bellows moved to New York at the age
of twenty-two to study under Robert Henri at the city’s School
of Art. There, he was introduced to life drawing which inspired
numerous works including Nude, Miss Bentham which is hanging in
the Barber’s Blue Gallery.

Inscriptions / Translations:  Annotated 'No 12' and signed.

Notes:  Exhibited: 'Bellows and the Body: The Real, the Ideal and the Nude', Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, 21 October 2016 - 22 January 2017.

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