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George Bellows and New York, 1900–1930

George Bellows, The Bridge , and The Toledo Museum of Art.
Bellows painted quickly. His record book indicates that he completed this painting and another in December 1909, in his studio on West 65th Street, New York. The Bridge, Blackwell’s Islandsoon gained national and international attention. Within months of its completion it went to Berlin and then to Munich in 1910 as part of an “Exhibition of American Painting.” That fall it hung in Dallas in the gallery of “prominent American artists” at the Texas State Fair. Back in New York later that year, it was selected for the National Academy of Design’s juried Winter Exhibition.The Toledo industrialist and philanthropist Edward Drummond Libbey (1854–1925) purchased the work for $800 at the Winter Exhibition’s close. The forward-thinking Libbey donated The Bridgeto the Toledo Museum of Art in 1912 for display in its newly opened Monroe Street building, making this one of the first paintings by Bellows to enter a museum collection.Because of the way that Bellows’ applied paint to the canvas, areas became fragile within a few decades, and conservators eventually advised that the picture never travel outside the Museum again. Today the only place to see this significant and celebrated painting is here, at the Toledo Museum of Art.