Lot 33
  • 33

William J. Glackens 1870-1938

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  • William James Glackens
  • Yellow Bath House and Sailboat, Bellport, Long Island
  • signed W. Glackens, l.l.
  • oil on canvas
  • 18 by 24 in.
  • (45.7 by 61 cm)
  • Painted circa 1916.


Kraushaar Gallery, New York
Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Levyne, Baltimore, Maryland
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York
Acquired from the above, 1962


New York, Kraushaar Gallery, Paintings and Drawings by William Glackens, January 1949, no. 20
Brooklyn, New York, The Brooklyn Museum; Andover, Massachusetts, Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, American Painting: Selections from the Collection of Daniel and Rita Fraad, June-November 1964, no. 43, pp. 52-53, illustrated in color p. 53
Fort Worth, Texas, Amon Carter Museum, American Paintings, Watercolors, and Drawings from the Collection of Rita and Daniel Fraad, May-July 1985, no. 35, pp. 74-76, illustrated in color p. 75


Robert G. McIntyre, "The Eight," 1963 Festival of the Arts Brochure, Manchester, Vermont, 1963, illustrated
Richard J. Wattenmaker, "William Glackens's Beach Scenes at Bellport," Smithsonian Studies in American Art, Spring 1988

Catalogue Note

At the turn of the century, William Glackens traveled to Europe on three separate occasions and during each trip he took the opportunity to examine the works of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists such as Renoir and Matisse.  On a trip in 1912, Glackens headed to Paris to acquire modern art on behalf of his close friend and classmate, Albert Barnes, whose collection was well underway to becoming one of the most important collections of modern art in private hands.   Glackens’ first purchase for Albert Barnes was a small portrait by Renoir, demonstrating the impressionable artist’s admiration for his French colleague.

Glackens’ exposure to the high-keyed palette and progressive techniques of European art during his sojourns abroad and an increasing number of exhibitions in this country had a liberating effect on the artist’s own sense of color.  As a result of these influences, the period between 1908 and 1913 witnessed a profound change in Glackens' style.  According to Richard J. Wattenmaker, “He swings loose from the dark center of gravity shown in earlier works and integrates a number of new sources-principally the palette of the Impressionists and their feeling for the outdoors… He further extends the range of his palette and increases the sense of freedom in the handling of color” (“William Glackens’s Beach Scenes at Bellport,” Smithsonian Studies in American Art, Spring 1988).  Glackens’ resulting body of work owes much to the work of Renoir, exercising his artistic affinity for vivid color orchestration and lively brushstrokes while depicting uniquely American subject matter.


Beginning in 1911, Glackens, his wife Edith and their family began summering in a number of resort towns.  The generosity of Edith’s parents eased the financial burden on the young couple, allowing them to rent cottages by the sea in Cape Cod, Wickford, Rhode Island, Chester, Nova Scotia and for several years, Bellport, Long Island.  Glackens painted many of his best known and best loved works during these summer holidays, when his art focused on images of Americans at leisure, enjoying the array of summertime pursuits to be found at the fashionable summer watering holes.

Mr. Wattenmaker writes, “The beach scenes painted by William Glackens during the six summers the artist and his family spent at the seashore in and around Bellport, Long Island, constitute a single American contribution to the international tradition of Impressionism.  From 1911 through 1916 Glackens painted an extended series of motifs of figures at the beach, bathers along the shore and in the water, enjoying carefree recreation under the sunlit skies of Great South Bay…In his Bellport beach scenes Glackens created a body of work that thoughtful critics and collectors have acknowledged to be among his most distinctive achievements” (Smithsonian Studies in American Art, p. 75).


In Yellow Bath House and Sailboat, Bellport, Long Island, painted circa 1916, Glackens employs the brilliant colors and feathery brushwork characteristic of his fully developed style.  The energetic atmosphere of the beach is echoed in the juxtaposition of jewel toned colors and vibrant dabs of pigment.  The shoreline at Bellport, scattered with water slides, rafts, dressing sheds and jetties, was perfect for this inspired and lively period in Glackens’ career.  The critic Charles H. Caffin writes, “I enjoy particularly the seashore pictures…there is the suggestion of fullness of life in the color and air and light of these scenes.  They are delightfully impressionistic in the sense that they have caught and hold the actual spirit of the shore in the magic of its momentary expression” (“Eighteen Canvases by Glackens on View,” New York American, March 10, 1913).  Yellow Bath House and Sail Boat, Bellport, Long Island is evocative of this sunny disposition which pervades Glackens’ mature work and characterizes his beach scenes.  Albert E. Gallatin writes that “the beach scenes, completely enveloped in sparkling and joyous sunshine, in which the figures are placed in the landscape in a most masterly manner…are paintings which disclose his genius at its best” (“William Glackens,” Magazine of Art, May 1916, p. 263).