Founder William Macbeth…
…opened the Macbeth Gallery doors in 1892 and during its tenure it made significant contributions to American art. A notable success was Andrew Wyeth’s first exhibition in 1937 at Macbeth’s Gallery concluded with the sale of all twenty-two paintings cataloged. Later on in its history Robert Macbeth was key contributor to the founding of the American Art Dealers Association. These efforts, among others, to organize and support the artists and the art community cemented the Macbeth Gallery reputation as one of the finest.
William Macbeth, the gallery founder is credited with helping establish an audience and a market for American art when few were willing to give it serious consideration. He and other artists believed that working-class and middle-class urban settings would provide better material for the painter of the day. He turned his back on the convention only drawing rooms and salons were proponents of great art. Out of this thinking came a like minded band of artists soon to become known as “The Ashcan School”. The genesis of this movement began with a rebellion in 1908 that later became to be known as “The Eight”. They were Arthur B. Davies, William Glackens, Robert Henri, Ernest Lawson, George Luks, Maurice B. Prendergast, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan. Prior to the rebellion by “The Eight” artists followed a time honored tradition of submitting works of art to academic juries and experts before they were put on view to the public. In a rebuff to those very traditions “The Eight” choose to go it alone. In February, lead by Robert Henri they put on their very own exhibition at the Macbeth Gallery to a clamoring public. The exhibition a resounding success traveled to several cities from Newark to Chicago. This exhibition at the Macbeth Gallery is widely viewed as the first clash against the academic art establishment and the starting point of the conversation about new ideas and what is acceptable subject matter in painting. This exhibition is largely credited as being the beginning of artistic independence.
The Ashcan School was an artist movement formed during the early twentieth century in New York City following the rebellion. The movement captured everyday life in the city highlighting the city’s poorest neighborhoods and its occupants. A great example of this style is captured in Everett Shinn’s painting “The Laundress” to the right.