William Glackens

born Philadelphia, PA 1870-died Westport, CT 1938
Media - J0001678_1b.jpg - 89274
William Glackens at work in his studio, 1935, © Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum J0001678
Also known as
  • William J. Glackens
  • William James Glackens
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Westport, Connecticut, United States
Active in
  • New York, New York, United States
  • Paris, France
  • American

Painter, illustrator, and member of The Eight. At the beginning of his career, Glackens painted scenes of middle-class life and used a rich, dark palette; in later years, he favored still lifes and studio scenes, his colors reflecting the influence of Pierre Auguste Renoir.

Joan Stahl American Artists in Photographic Portraits from the Peter A. Juley & Son Collection (Washington, D.C. and Mineola, New York: National Museum of American Art and Dover Publications, Inc., 1995)

Artist Biography

[William Glackens] began his career as an artist reporter in order to support himself while he studied painting in night classes at the Pennsylvania Academy. The forerunner of the modern news photographer, the artist-reporter was sent to the scene of a news story and his sketches, made later from memory, were translated by craftsmen into wood engravings to be printed with the newspaper.

Painting was Glackens' primary interest, however, and he left Philadelphia in 1895 for Paris. There he found the work of Edouard Manet, Auguste Renoir, and other independents, who had broken with the classical sterility of the Academie in favor of everyday subjects and new freedoms in painting techniques. His admiration for their work strengthened his own sense of direction, but on returning to New York the next year Glackens found that he must once again support his study of painting by working as an illustrator. He became a sketch artist for the New York Herald and the Sunday World.

Janet A. Flint Drawings by William Glackens: 1870–1938 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Collection of Fine Arts, 1972)


A painting of a woman sitting down and reading 'Le Figaro'
Special Installation of Nineteen American Masterworks
April 17, 2015August 16, 2015
Integrated within the chronological flow of the museum’s permanent collection, these masterworks from Gilded Age, Impressionist, and Ashcan School painters will help to tell the story of the late 19th century and early 20th centuries in America, a “coming

Related Books

Scenes of American Life: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Scenes of American Life: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum commemorates Treasures to Go, a series of eight exhibitions from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, touring the nation through 2002. The Principal Financial Group is a proud partner in presenting these treasures to the American people.