George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925)
Property from the Estate of Robert A. Mann and the Mann Family
George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925)

Tumble of Waters

George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925)
Tumble of Waters
signed 'Geo Bellows' (lower right)
oil on panel
15 x 19 ½ in. (38.1 x 49.5 cm.)
Painted in 1913.
The artist.
Estate of the above, 1925.
Emma S. Bellows, wife of the artist.
Estate of the above, 1959.
H.V. Allison & Co., Inc., New York.
Acquired from the above, 1973.
Artist's Record Book A, p. 251.
H. Burchard, "Epic Homer: The Real Story," The Washington Post, March 22, 1991.
M.A. Wallace, "George Bellows Paints California: A Summer Escape Out West," M.A. thesis, University of California Riverside, June 2014, pp. 104, 159, fig. 55, illustrated.
New York, H.V. Allison & Co., Inc., 1970.
Miami, Florida, Mann Galleries, George Bellows, 1882-1925: Paintings, Drawings, Lithographs, November 1973, no. 2, cover illustration.
Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art; Columbus, Ohio, Columbus Museum of Art; Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, Reckoning with Winslow Homer: His Late Paintings and their Influence, September 19, 1990-May 12, 1991, pp. 111, 114, no. 26, fig. 86, illustrated.

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Annie Rosen
Annie Rosen

Lot Essay

To be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the paintings of George Bellows being prepared by Glenn C. Peck. An online version of the catalogue is available at

The present work was painted on Monhegan Island, Maine, in October 1913. George Bellows first traveled to Monhegan during the summer of 1911 at the invitation of Robert Henri. Though only three miles long and one-half mile wide, the isle's raw beauty, dramatic coastline and roiling sea provided the ideal scenery for Bellows’ direct, bravura style. He explored every hill and dale and was captivated by the variety of pictorial possibilities, writing, "The Island is endless in its wonderful variety. It's possessed of enough beauty to supply a continent." (as quoted in S. Cash, "Life at Sea, 1911-1917," in C. Brock, et al., George Bellows, Washington, D.C., 2012, p. 160) Bellows was so inspired by the distinctive character of the topography and its inhabitants that he returned two summers later, painting some of the most visceral depictions of nature of his career.

On his first trip to Monhegan, Bellows primarily painted sketches on small panels measuring 11 by 15 inches, which would often provide inspiration for large studio canvases upon his return to New York. When he returned in 1913, Bellows instead chose to work on a larger scale, which still allowed him to carry his easel around the island to work en plein air, but also permitted grander compositions that were final works in their own right. He executed about 100 panels measuring 15 by 20 inches, including the present work. Bellows boasted in a letter to gallerist William Macbeth, "I am…getting some very complete pictures...I am delighted with some of them...These panels are twice as big as the old ones and a long way removed from quick sketches." (as quoted in F. Kelly, "Bellows and the Sea," The Paintings of George Bellows, New York, 1992, p. 152)

While the size of Bellows' compositions became notably larger on the 1913 trip, their scope became much smaller than his earlier panoramic views of the island; as a result, the best of the 1913 panels, including Tumble of Waters, present isolated views of coastline, evocative of the violent seaside but also magnified and cropped almost to the point of abstraction. Sarah Cash expounds, “The crash of surf on rocks...became his favored subject; these dynamically composed views, executed with correspondingly vigorous and loaded brushwork, attest to the continuing influence of [Winslow] Homer, particularly his late seascapes.” (as quoted in "Life at Sea, 1911-1917," pp. 161-62) These expressive Monhegan panels, such as Tumble of Waters, "may represent Bellows's purest attempt to isolate natural forces and to suggest through the clashing of rock and sea the ebb and flow of man's eternal struggle with life's challenges." (J.M. Keny, "Brief Garland: A Life of George Bellows," Timeline, vol. 9, nos. 5-6, October-December 1992, p. 25)

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