Forty-two Kids (1907) by George Bellows

Forty-two Kids - George Bellows - 1907

Artwork Information

TitleForty-two Kids
ArtistGeorge Bellows
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions107.6 x 153 cm (42 3/8 x 60 1/4 in.)
Art MovementAmerican Realism
Current LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

About Forty-two Kids

The artwork entitled “Forty-two Kids” is a prominent creation by American artist George Bellows, completed in the year 1907. This oil on canvas painting is a notable representation of American Realism, a movement that Bellows was closely associated with. The dimensions of the work are 107.6 x 153 cm. As a genre painting, it captures scenes from everyday life, projecting a vivid and candid portrayal of its subjects. The piece is part of the collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where it is on public display.

“Forty-two Kids” is a dynamic and gritty depiction of urban youth. The artwork showcases a group of boys participating in a common, though unsanctioned, pastime of their era—swimming in the city’s river. Bellows’ adept use of oil paint captures the energy and abandon of the boys, rendered in a range of flesh tones against the dark waters and decrepit wooden dock. The composition is alive with movement, as some of the children prepare to dive, while others climb, lounge, or swim. The rough-hewn planks and jagged timbers of the makeshift pier contribute to a sense of unruliness and neglect. This painting serves not only as a snapshot of early twentieth-century youth culture but also as a commentary on the social conditions of the time. The artwork’s evocative portrayal of this ragtag gathering of boys offers insight into the period’s urban landscape and the lives of those who navigated its challenges.

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