William J. Glackens 1870-1938
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The Balcony, c. 1899

The Philadelphia-born Glackens began his career in newspaper illustration. His work at The Philadelphia Record, beginning in 1892, as well as night classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, brought him in touch with the artists—Robert Henri, John Sloan, Everett Shinn, and George Luks—that would form the core of the Ashcan school. His first trip to Europe, in 1895, was in the company of Robert Henri, who impressed upon him the value of Manet and the Dutch masters. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Glackens did not take the European opportunity to study at any of the French schools, but he nonetheless returned stateside with ambitions grander than Philadelphia newspapers could accommodate. Moving to New York in 1896, he began a campaign towards his own explosive views of city life. Beginning in the sooty tones of the Ashcan group, he gradually developed as a brilliant colorist, reworking Renior’s treatment of color for his own personal Impressionism.