George Wesley Bellows
Introducing the Champion, 1912
Black crayon, India ink and collage
24 3/4 x 20 inches
Signed upper left
Best known for his depictions of gritty New York street scenes and illicit boxing matches, George Bellows also painted landscapes, seascapes, portraits, and war themes during his shortened career. Bellows was the youngest member of the Ashcan school, a group who advocated the depiction of contemporary American subjects in every form. His paintings of tenement conditions and of the poor, working classes addressed social, political and cultural issues of the early twentieth century.
The present drawing served as a study for two lithographs, Introducing the Champion, No. 1 (1916) and Introducing the Champion, No. 2 (1921). John Wilmerding states, “[Introducing the Champion] depicts the theatrics of the ring as the announcer, with a dramatic sweep of his arm, introduces the current champion, Tornado Black, who cockily accepts the crowd’s applause. Light is used to emphasize various figures in the arena and audience and to unify the composition, while one dominant line runs from the left foreground up the back of the spectator climbing into the ring and then up the left arm of the referee.” [John Wilmerding, “Bellows’ Boxing Pictures and the American Tradition,” in Bellows: The Boxing Pictures, exh. cat. (National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 1982)]