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George Wesley Bellows was born in August 1882, in Columbus, Ohio. He began drawing at a very early age, and his proficiency towards art was noticed early as well, his elementary-school teacher would even ask him to decorate the class chalkboard.
However, young Bellows decided to become an athlete and began training to become a popular basketball and baseball player. He developed very well in both sports, even becoming a semipro for years to come. Bellows declined an offer from a baseball scout, opting to enter the Ohio State University, where he was not only playing for both the basketball and baseball teams but also he provided illustrations for the student yearbook. Bellows was encouraged to become a professional athlete as well as continued to receive magazine commissions throughout his life. Despite his popularity and countless opportunities, Bellows desired to achieve success as a painter, so he left Ohio in 1904, just before his graduation, in order to move to New York City and study art.
In New York, Bellows studied under Robert Henri at the New York School of Art, before the later famous painter set up his own school. While studying there, Bellows would become associated with Robert Henri’s The Eight as well as the Ashcan School, a group of artists who supported painting to the contemporary American society. In 1906, Bellows, along with his fellow student, Edward Keefe, set up a studio at Broadway Street.
The first time Bellows achieved widespread notice was in 1908 when he and Henri’s other pupils would organize an exhibition of mostly urban subjects. Though many critics found the paintings crude, others considered them a fresh and welcomely audacious view, a step further beyond the work of their teacher. Bellows became a teacher at the Art Students League of New York, although he was more interested in becoming an achieved painter. Between 1907 and 1915, Bellows would execute several paintings depicting New York City under snowfall, showing his prowess working with texture and light, amongst the chaos and crudity of his subjects, often including the working-class people and neighborhoods.
Bellows' later paintings had a change in subjects, moving towards depictions on domestic life, especially his beloved wife and daughters. Another of his subjects was the sea, painting over 250 pieces, such as The Fisherman. Bellows became a teacher at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1919. George Wesley Bellows died in New York City, on January 8, of peritonitis.