William Glackens's beach scenes rank among the most successful American Impressionist works. Painted throughout his career while on summer vacations at such popular destinations as Bellport on Long Island, Rockport in Massachusetts, and Saint-Jean-de-Luz in France, his beach scenes reflect the influence of European painters like Matisse and Renoir on his style, and trace the development of his own technique. With its soft palette and feathery brushwork, Women on the Beach wonderfully illustrates Glackens' mature Impressionist style.
A reporter-illustrator for the Philadelphia Record and Philadelphia Press, Glackens began to study drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1892 under Thomas Anshutz. By 1894, he was studying oil painting with Robert Henri who introduced him to fellow artist-reporters George Luks, Everett Shinn and John Sloan. After his first trip to Europe with Henri in 1895, Glackens moved to New York, supporting himself as an illustrator for the New York World and the New York Herald. In writing of Glackens's early New York paintings, Leslie Kats remarks that "his talent developed in the course of illustrating magazines and books, just as the music of George Gershwin came out of Tin Pan Alley."(L. Kats, "The Pertinence of William Glackens," William Glackens in Retrospect, Saint Louis, Missouri, 1966)
During his frequent later travels in Europe, Glackens took the opportunity to examine the works of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists such as Renoir and Matisse. Discovering their palette and technique had a liberating effect on his own sense of color and method, and he began exploring and utilizing high-keyed oranges, yellows, and violets using quick, spontaneous brushstrokes. Women on the Beach reflects the influence of Renoir that becomes so apparent in Glackens's fully developed Impressionist works.
In applauding the merits of the artist's later paintings, Grace V. Kelley noted: "For those who enjoy good painting, intrinsic color, a singing wonder in the artistic vision, Glackens will always give pleasure. My own summing up might be that Glackens with no axe to grind and motivated only by the visual thrill, has passed on his visual experiences to those capable of receiving them as visual experiences, and in so doing has fulfilled the function of the authentic artist." (as quoted in W.H. Gerdts, William Glackens, New York, 1996, p. 155)