Everett Shinn (1876–1953)

Theater Scene, 1903

Oil on canvas, 12 3/4 x 15 1/2 in. (32.4 x 39.4 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.136

Everett Shinn ranks among the most versatile and talented members of the derisively named Ashcan school, artists best known for their portrayal of gritty urban subjects. In 1900 he traveled to Paris and London, where visits to music halls and vaudeville theaters fueled his passion for the stage and inspired some of his primary subjects. In the intimate yet vivid Theater Scene, two actresses, lit from below by unseen footlights, pose near the edge of a stage, with a spectral male figure in the shadows behind them. The immediacy and realism of this painting—effected through rough, sketchy brushwork and casual, off-center framing— suggest that Shinn painted it in the theater itself. For him and his fellow artists Robert Henri, George Bellows, and William Glackens, such popular-entertainment venues embodied the ebullience and pathos that characterized the modern urban experience.

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.