George Wesley Bellows
Rain on the River
George Wesley Bellows
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
Ohio native George Bellows constructed his urban landscape paintings with pigment-loaded brushstrokes and animated graphic marks. In this view from a rocky ledge above Riverside Park, he surveys a train making its way down the New York Central’s Water Level Route. A rushing diagonal of freight cars skirts the Hudson River and exhales a great puff of steam. Against the backdrop of the fog-shrouded Palisades, a lone pedestrian scurries across a rain-slicked path and coal scavengers fill a horse-drawn cart. Writing to RISD president Eliza Radeke in 1915, Bellows called Rain on the River “one of my most beautiful things.”(October 11, 2013 – February 9, 2014)
Bellows rendered urban landscapes with a bold technique that appealed to early 20th-century critics. In this view from a rocky ledge above Riverside Park, he surveys a freight train making its way down New York Central’s Hudson River route. The string of cars reinforces a rushing diagonal that skirts the riverbank and culminates in a great puff of steam. Against the fog-shrouded backdrop, a pedestrian scurries across a rain-slicked path and coal scavengers fill a horse-drawn cart. Writing to RISD president Eliza Radeke, Bellows called Rain on the River “one of my most beautiful things.”
Can a landscape be epic? Bellows answers Yes, approaching the canvas at various speeds: quick abbreviations in the right-hand dock, slower development in the smoke and the important color shapes. Divided into quadrants of rain, river, industry, and park and rimmed with close-cropped rocks, the painting presents balance and dynamic action. A powerful range of tonal progressions is interrupted by linear sequences of trees and soil. Smoke, rain, mist, stone, and trees heighten the sense of touch. Human activity is represented in cool greens, warm grays, and touches of ochre gleaming through. Color reinforces the weather and the particularity of view. The painting evokes cities on rivers and artists who seek the outside experience as a home to subjective experience.
Nancy Friese, painter-printmaker and RISD professor (Graduate Studies)(June 20 –August 31, 2003)
Edited ByWoolsey, Ann, ed.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 2008
TypeMonographs and CollectionsSelection VIIAmerican Painting from the Museum's Collection, c.1800-1930
Contributions byMandel, Patrica C.F.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1977
TypeMonographs and CollectionsA Handbook of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design
Edited ByWoodward, Carla M., and Franklin W. Robinson, eds.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1988
TypeMonographs and CollectionsExchange Exhibition, Exhibition ExchangeFrom the Collection of Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University; From the Collection of The Museum of Art, Rhode
Contributions byMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. Waltham, MA: Rose Art Museum, Brandesi University., 1967