George Wesley Bellows
Rain on the River
George Wesley Bellows, American, Rain on the River, 1908, Oil on canvas; 82.2 x 97.2 cm (32 3/8 x 38 1/4 inches), Jesse Metcalf Fund 15.063
George Bellows was critically acclaimed for the frank, even brutal manner of the urban landscapes he painted in the early years of the twentieth century. His view from a rockly ledge above Riverside Park surveys a freight train making its way along the New York Central’s famous Water Level Route. The string of railcars echoes the rushing diagonal that marks the near bank of the Hudson River. Aggressive brushstrokes indicate reflective surfaces that are animated by graphic observations: a lone pedestrian scurries acros a rain-slicked path, and a horse-drawn cart awaits a delivery of scavenged coal. Bellows called Rain on the River “one of my most beautiful things” in a letter he wrote to RISD president Eliza Radeke during 1915, the year the painting was acquired for the Museum’s collection.