Artist
George Bellows
American painter

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George Bellows
American painter
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Birth Date

August 19, 1882

Death Date

January 08, 1925

jtucker's picture

Contributor

George Bellows almost didn’t make it into this world.

His parents were well over the fertility hill; his mom was 40 and his dad was 50 when they decided that it was now or never to fulfill their biological needs to reproduce. And boy are we glad they did, for their child would grow up to become one of the most acclaimed American artists of his generation, or so the Columbus Museum of Art has dubbed him.

Though we at Sartle are smitten with Bellow’s life choice to become an artist, it would seem that it was at the odds of pretty much everyone else’s expectations of him. His mother wanted him to grow up to be Methodist Bishop and subsequently forbade him from going outside on Sundays so that she could read the bible out loud to him. This clearly backfired. Then, later in life, Bellows played on his college baseball team and was offered a professional baseball contract, but he again decided to ignore everyone’s suggestions, moved to New York, and became an artist instead. 

Moving from the mellow life of rural Ohio to the bustling streets of New York City invigorated Bellows with a rush of creative energy that changed the direction of his artistic career. Bellows began painting scenes from everyday life in this fast-paced city. Though he loved life as a bohemian art, his infatuation with athletics never died.

Artists tend to paint what they know, which is likely why Bellows had a real propensity to capturing the ferocity involved in beating the s**t out of each other. As a child, many of his classmates teased him for being a sissy and quickly Bellows learned to respond to their ridicule with his fists. This desire to overpower bullies with sheer strength is probably what lead Bellows down that athletic jock path to begin with.

Bellows was a tough guy but no matter how rugged you are, the most insignificant things can swiftly bring the end of life. While his life was filled with dramatic testosterone-drenched fist fights, it was his poor little appendix that knocked him out.  

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Here is what Wikipedia says about George Bellows

George Wesley Bellows (August 12 or August 19, 1882 – January 8, 1925) was an American realist painter, known for his bold depictions of urban life in New York City. He became, according to the Columbus Museum of Art, "the most acclaimed American artist of his generation".

Youth

George Wesley Bellows was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. He was the only child of George Bellows and Anna Wilhelmina Smith Bellows (he had a half-sister, Laura, 18 years his senior). He was born four years after his parents married, at the ages of fifty (George) and forty (Anna). His mother was the daughter of a whaling captain based in Sag Harbor, Long Island, and his family returned there for their summer vacations. He began drawing well before kindergarten, and his elementary–school teachers often asked him to decorate their classroom blackboards at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

At age 10, George took to athletics, and trained to be a baseball and basketball player. He became good enough at both sports to play semipro ball for years afterward. During his senior year, a baseball scout from the Indianapolis team made him an offer. He declined, opting to enroll at The Ohio State University (1901–1904). There he played for the baseball and basketball teams, and provided illustrations for the Makio, the school's student yearbook. He was encouraged to become a professional baseball player, and he worked as a commercial illustrator while a student and continued to accept magazine assignments throughout his life. Despite these opportunities in athletics and commercial art, Bellows desired success as a painter. He left Ohio State in 1904, just before he was to graduate, and moved to New York City to study art.

Bellows was soon a student of Robert Henri, who at the time was teaching at the New York School of Art. While studying there, Bellows became associated with Henri's "The Eight" and the Ashcan School, a group of artists who advocated painting contemporary American society in all its forms. By 1906, Bellows and fellow art student Edward Keefe had set up a studio at 1947 Broadway.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about George Bellows.