Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1882, Bellows studied at the Ohio State University. He moved to New York City in 1904 to study art with Robert Henri and the group of enthusiastic young painters around him, known as the Ashcan School, who found rich subject matter in the booming metropolis.
From 1907 New York City became Bellows’ main subject, depicted in works showing the working class in an expressive style. Bellows later focussed on boxing rings. To this day, these remain among his most famous paintings, revealing a violent atmosphere inspired by Goya’s dramatic and grotesque characters.
Bellows played a key role in the organisation of the legendary Armory Show of 1913, which introduced the American public to masterworks (including Cézanne’s Old Woman with a Rosary) by French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Cubist painters, as well as to works by American contemporary artists.
The atrocities of the First World War had a traumatic impact on Bellows, who in 1918 undertook a series of lithographs and monumental canvasses on this theme. He died in 1925 at the age of 42.