Portrait: Washington Square, 1910 – William Glackens

William Glackens was born in 1870 in Philadelphia, where he began his career as a newspaper illustrator and reporter. Around 1900, he moved to New York with other artists who worked as illustrators and painters, depicting scenes of everyday life in the growing metropolis.

One of Glackens’ favorite subjects was Washington Square Park, an old city square that separated Greenwich Village, a working-class neighborhood where many Italian immigrants had settled, and the well-to-do neighborhoods north of the square.

Glackens drew and painted the view from his studio on the south edge of the square, focusing on the various types of people who frequented the park. Glackens’ scenes record the mixing of social classes that occurred in New York City.

In his more than twenty paintings of Washington Square between 1909 and 1914, Glackens often repeats certain figures and motifs. He frequently used the tree at the center of the picture to anchor his compositions, many of which depict the same corner as in the New Britain painting.

After 1915 Glackens became most famous for his Impressionist still lifes and figure studies, which were often compared to those of the French Impressionist Pierre-August Renoir. He died in 1938.

Primary Text (Edited) and Painting: New Britain Museum of American Art New Britain Connecticut

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  1. It’s interesting to learn the stories behind scenes an artist paints. And I was certainly unaware of Glackens history with Washington Sq. One of my colleagues just wrote a blog post on another work by Glackens, “Park at Gracie Square”. This turned out to be a sketch of the area of the current Carl Schurz Park, New York, near Gracie Mansion: http://spanierman.wordpress.com/category/artists/william-glackens/
    -Jenn McMenemy
    Spanierman Gallery

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