William J. Glackens 1870-1938
- William James Glackens
- The Swing
- oil on canvas
Kraushaar Galleries, New York
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, gift of T. B. Walker Foundation, 1958 (sold: Christie's, New York, May 18, 2004, lot 81, illustrated in color)
Acquired by the present owner at the above sale
St. Louis, Missouri, City Art Museum of Saint Louis; Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, William Glackens in Retrospect, November 1966-June 1967, no. 40, illustrated
St. Paul, Minnesota, Minnesota Museum of Art, American Style: Early Modernist Works in Minnesota Collections, October-December 1981, no. 24
Roslyn Harbor, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, Town and Country: In Pursuit of Life's Pleasures, May-August 1996
Influenced by his teacher Robert Henri, William Glackens' early work was marked by dark, mostly muted colors and the gestural brushwork of the Ashcan School. With the encouragement of friends and fellow artists Maurice Prendergast, Ernest Lawson, and Alfred Maurer, Glackens eventually began to experiment with bright color harmonies. This new artistic direction was reinforced by a 1912 trip to Paris, taken at the behest of his former high-school classmate Dr. Albert C. Barnes who had given the artist twenty thousand dollars to purchase paintings for what would later become one of the most important collections of modern art in private hands. While in Paris, Glackens visited numerous galleries including Durand-Ruel and Bernheim-Jeune where he was exposed to the high-keyed palettes and progressive techniques of European artists such as Cézanne, Renoir, Degas, Gauguin, and Matisse.
As a result of these influences, the period between 1908 and 1913 witnessed 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.
Between 1911 and 1916, Glackens and his family rented a summer cottage at Bellport, a small village on the Southern Shore of Long Island that attracted artists, writers, and musicians. During these summers he painted many scenes of leisure activities—colorful canvases depicting his family and friends on the beach, sailing and swimming. Glackens' Bellport works also include landscapes and genre subjects such as The Swing, an idyllic summer scene set in a sun-dappled backyard by the sea. In The Swing, Glackens depicts three women in bright yellow hats reading; nearby a child plays on a swing. Glackens captures the summer light with bold brushstrokes and the use of a vivid palette demonstrating his unique style of impressionism.