Urban Realism and the American Scene
George Bellows (1882–1925)
The Palisades, 1909
A prominent realist painter of modern urban life active in the early twentieth century, George Bellows captured New York City and its inhabitants in numerous paintings, drawings, and prints. The Palisades is part of a series of Hudson River paintings in which the artist demonstrated his mastery of painting snow. Framed by tall trees, this plunging view of the riverbanks conveys the crystalline light and dry chill of a winter day. In the background, the darkened New Jersey Palisades provide a strong counterpoint to the brilliant sky, water, and snow. By juxtaposing complementary colors such as orange and blue, Bellows revealed his adherence to the color theory promoted by the Chicago paint manufacturer Hardesty Maratta (1864–1924), who likened color combinations to chords in music and encouraged the use of strong contrasting colors. The Palisades signals a major shift in Bellows’s approach to both color and composition.