McSorley’s Back Room (1912) by John Sloan

McSorley's Back Room - John Sloan - 1912

Artwork Information

TitleMcSorley's Back Room
ArtistJohn Sloan
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions66 x 81.3 cm (26 x 32 in.)
Art MovementNew Realism
Current LocationHood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
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About McSorley's Back Room

The painting, “McSorley’s Bar” by John Sloan, is a unique window into the atmosphere of a typical day in 1912. The subject of the painting is working-class regulars at McSorley’s Ale House of East 7th Street, Manhattan. This is displayed through Sloan’s attention to detail; capturing the wood bar and bottles lined up, along with customers and bartender Bill McSorley, son of the original owners. It is said John Sloan may have captured this specific moment due to his art teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts, Thomas Anshutz who found inspiration in everyday scenes from local taverns and back rooms.

In comparison to this work, another highly admired painting created by John Sloan in 1907 titled “Election Night” also captures everyday scenes. Depicting local candidates running for office in an Irish American neighborhood within New York City. Here Sloan focused on different aspects of life within a poverty stricken area at that time, he showcases electioneering amongst neighbors enjoying a lively night all contained within stoops and doorsteps around them; such as children playing about or older generations observing from afar.

These works by John Sloan captures snapshots of times gone by that still linger with those who appreciate his famous paintings today. His depiction of daily life shines through into modern times and they remain beloved which is indicative posthumously of his passion and dedication that he put into every piece he created – just as seen in “McSorley’s Bar” and other works like “Election Night”.

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