A Sunday rooftop ritual on Cornelia Street

Painter John Sloan captures three young women in a semi-private ritual in “Sunday, Women Drying Their Hair,” from 1912.

Watching the three from his studio at Sixth Avenue and West Fourth Street, Sloan called them unselfconscious performers in “another of the human comedies which were regularly staged for my enjoyment by the humble roof-top players of Cornelia Street,” according to this caption from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Rather than engaging in polite rituals in the elegant or exotic private habitats that American academics and Impressionists preferred to portray,” the caption explains, “these lightly clad Three Graces exhibit an easy camaraderie and a forthright relationship to the viewer.”

“They display their chests and bare arms as they perform their toilette, and their hair is freed from the decorous buns, ‘psyche knots,’ and other coiffures required for appropriate appearance in public.”

The breeze must have felt good up there on the roof. Here’s another John Sloan rooftop.

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5 Responses to “A Sunday rooftop ritual on Cornelia Street”

  1. Joy Domico Smith Says:

    This is a wonderful John Sloane painting and being someone who used to dry her hair on the roof of 60 Bank Street, I can almost feel the breeze and the heat from the Sun reflected on the tar.

  2. “Unconscious grace” on a rooftop in Chelsea | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] another Sloan painting of women, hair, and laundry—this time on a Cornelia Street […]

  3. John Sloan paints many moods of McSorley’s Bar | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Sloan moved to New York in 1904 and spent many years depicting the city’s moods, from joy to isolation. […]

  4. jady salganik Says:

    jady salganik….born 69 west 10th st…9/1/45… attended ps 41 and ps 8

  5. Cornelia Street has barely changed in a century | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Sloan had a studio in the Flatiron-style tower in the center, officially called the Varitype Building. He often painted Sixth Avenue and Cornelia Street—like this scene of three women drying their hair on a Cornelia Street rooftop. […]

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