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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas

Excavation at Night

Artist: George Wesley Bellows (1882 - 1925)
Date: 1908
34 x 44 in. (86.4 x 111.8 cm)
Framed: 45 in. × 54 7/8 in. × 2 7/8 in.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2010.77
Inscriptions: verso, on canvas, in black paint: EXCAVATION / AT NIGHT / Geo Bellows / 1947 / B'DWAY / N.Y.
Signed: l.r., in red paint: Geo Bellows
Place Depicted:
On View
Accession Number: 2010.77
ProvenanceEstate of the Artist, 1925; to Emma Story Bellows [1884-1959] (Artist's wife), New York, NY, 1925; to Estate of Emma Story Bellows, 1959; (H.V. Allison & Co., New York, NY); Albert L. Sylvester [1903-1973] and Elizabeth E. Sylvester, Boston, MA, 1961; to Estate of Elizabeth E. Sylvester, by 1976. (Berry-Hill Galleries, New York, NY), by 1992; to (Sotheby's, Inc., New York, NY), 2004; purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2004
Label TextGeorge Bellows was attracted to gritty urban scenes. He painted several images of the construction site of Pennsylvania Station in New York. In this night scene, the cavernous excavation pit is deeper than the height of the dimly lit tenement buildings surrounding its edge. In the foreground, a small campfire sends sparks into the night air. While this project led to faster, safer travel, the construction displaced thousands of poor and working-class families.