08.06.12 8:45 AM ET
A Little Island Writ Large
This is “An Island in the Sea”, painted by the New Yorker George Bellows in 1911. Bellows is getting a full retrospective at the National Gallery in Washington, and it leaves him looking pretty uneven, with his famous boxing tableaux still seeming his best work. It seems to me that Bellows was most successful when he worked basically as a caricaturist, under the influence of Daumier. His boxing pictures function that way, even though they’re scaled as history paintings. This lovwly little image of an island was painted at about the same time as his boxers, and also has a note of caricature. It’s almost a child’s cliche of insularity: Just a blob of land marooned in the ocean, and a storybook house on the beach.
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