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Pennsylvania Station Excavation

George Wesley Bellows

American Art

Between 1907 and 1909, George Wesley Bellows completed a series of four canvases devoted to the excavation of Pennsylvania Station in midtown Manhattan. In this version, laborers are dwarfed by the gaping pit they have created as they tear down the old New York in order to build it anew. The dark palette and vigorous brushwork, coupled with the chill winter atmosphere and billowing plumes of steam and smoke, lend additional drama to the scene. The painting has an infernal quality, suggesting the artist’s ambivalence about the rapid transformation of New York in the early twentieth century. The grand railroad terminal that would rise from this excavation was eventually demolished in 1963.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES ca. 1907–1908
DIMENSIONS 31 3/16 x 38 1/4 in. (79.2 x 97.1 cm) frame: 36 1/4 x 43 3/4 x 3 in. (92 x 111.1 x 7.6 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE A. Augustus Healy Fund
PROVENANCE 1909, acquired from the artist by Edward R. Keefe of New London, CT; between 1909 and 1967, provenance not yet documented; by December 1967, acquired by Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York; December 13, 1967, purchased from Hirschl & Adler by the Brooklyn Museum.
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CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Painting of pit for foundation of Penn Station.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION George Wesley Bellows (American, 1882–1925). Pennsylvania Station Excavation, ca. 1907–1908. Oil on canvas, 31 3/16 x 38 1/4 in. (79.2 x 97.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, A. Augustus Healy Fund, 67.205.1 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 67.205.1_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 67.205.1_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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