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The Bandit's Cave

Sloan, John

The Bandit's Cave

etching on paper

1991 Purchase funded by The Collectors Club

The narrative quality of this etching by John Sloan reveals his experience as an illustrator/reporter when he worked for Philadelphia newspapers early in his career. Sloan could quickly capture the details of a scene -- a necessity for an illustrator/reporter. Although Sloan was later convinced by his friend, Robert Henri, to be a painter, illustration was his favorite art form. While he was a member of The Ashcan School, Sloan earned his living as a magazine illustrator. He depicted subjects favored by his fellow Ashcan artists -- scenes from Coney Island, Union Square and the Bowery. Although his work showed the seamy side of life, he presented his subjects in an objective manner -- another influence of his experience as an illustrator/reporter.

This etching captures a street scene in New York in front of a bar called "The Bandit's Cave" during the Prohibition Era. The patrons entering the bar, and those loitering outside its basement entrance, are rendered in rapid lines and deep shadows that capture their expressive forms and gestures. Sloan conveyed the mood of the scene by incorporating deep shadows among the figures gathered at the entrance to the bar.