A Stag at Sharkey’s

 

George Bellows (1882-1925), A Stag at Sharkey’s, lithograph, 1917, signed, titled and numbered in pencil, on a light (but not tissue-thin) wove paper. Mason 46, only state, edition 98. In very good condition, the full sheet, with deckle edges. 18 5/8 x 23 7/8, the sheet 21 1/4 x 26 1/4 inches.

A dramatic, richly inked impression.

A Stag is surely the most widely known, and most iconic, of the Bellows boxing prints. It shows the action at a boxing club that Bellows frequented, called Sharkey’s Athletic Club, located near Bellows’ studio at Broadway and 66th Street, in Manhattan. The club was a bar/boxing arena, owned by former boxer Tom Sharkey. The lithograph is closely related to a painting Bellows made in 1909 (now at Cleveland Museum of Art) before he made prints, but the lithograph highlights the central portion of the composition where the clashing of heads, arms, fists, and even legs provides a dramatic focal point. The fans in the background are merged into the rich black background, and the ropes of the ring, in the foreground in the painting, are eliminated in the print so there’s no distraction from the action.