Robert Henri and His Students

In the beginning of the 20th century, a group of young artists based in New York City distinguished themselves from other American artists of the time. Led by Robert Henri, the group included William Glackens, John Sloan, George Luks and George Bellows. They portrayed everyday life on the streets. Their works seemed gritty when compared to academic painters in America and Europe.  A disapproving critic gave the group the name the “Ashcan School.”  However, these contemporary artists firmly believed that everyday life was a worthy subject. Fine art did not have to rely on nostalgia and sentimentality.  This new concept was very influential for later generations of American artists.

The work of Henri, Sloan and Glackens changed in the 1910s under the influence of a system developed by Hardesty Maratta. This paint manufacturer marketed a set of 12 colors and assigned each a musical note to suggest combinations based on harmonious chord structures. As a result, they began to use brighter tones and more vibrant hues.

  • Dorothy Hart, Green Dress
    oil on canvas
    John Sloan
    born Lock Haven, Pa. 1871
    died Hanover, N.H. 1951
    Museum purchase made possible by the Endowment Fund in honor of D.A. Turner and the Art Acquisition and Restoration Fund 96.3

    The knot of her hair, facial features, neck line, and outlines of Dorothy’s dress create a strong formal composition.
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  • Lady Wearing Hat
    ca. 1915
    oil on canvas
    Randall Davey
    born East Orange, N.J. 1887
    died Baker, Ca. 1964
    Museum purchase 85.47

    Randall Davey used the four principal colors of white, black, pink and aqua, and the different mixtures created by the combining these colors to create this figure study.
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  • Fergus, Boy in Blue
    oil on canvas
    Robert Henri
    born Cincinnati, Ohio 1865
    died New York, N.Y. 1929
    Museum Purchase 65.214

    In this portrait of a village child from Ireland’s Achille Island, Robert Henri painted the face without blending the hues on the canvas.
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