A dazzling sunset from a West 23rd Street roof

“Sunset, West Twenty-Third Street,” completed in 1906, is another evocative take on the city by John Sloan, with a solitary figure, dramatic sky, and representations of daily life: laundry on a line.

Sloan had a thing for the triple combo of women, rooftops, and laundry, as these paintings reveal.


“A study of dramatic beauty and unexpected tranquility in an undistinguished urban landscape, ‘Sunset, West Twenty-third Street,’ displays Sloan’s ability early in his career to transform a utilitarian setting into a more sublime vista.”

Sloanheadshot1891That’s from the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, which has the painting in its collection.

“Although ‘Sunset, West Twenty-third Street’ could easily be understood as an image of an anonymous woman distracted from her laundry, the figure represented is the artist’s wife, Dolly, on the rooftop of the building that housed his studio.”

Where was his studio? At 165 West 23rd, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. Here it is today via Google.

[Photo: John Sloan, 1891]

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6 Responses to “A dazzling sunset from a West 23rd Street roof”

  1. Mel Says:

    Gorgeous! So that tall, huddled building in the centre is the Chelsea Hotel? I’ve photographed just such a sunset out of its windows, though I fear its aged faded shabby-chic grandeur is now in the past. Love your posts – wonderful stuff to an Australian-born lover of NYC.

  2. Kathleen Brady Says:

    How fabulous that you posted this on Manhattanhenge Day — or whatever we call that alignment. Very subtle of you….or a big coincidence. Anyway, thank you for your thoughtful posts. They make the experience of the city we love richer.

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you both! It must be the Chelsea, which went up in the 1880s. On my book list is a newish release called “Inside the Dream Palace” about the history of the Chelsea and its residents.

    The Manhattanhenge thing is a coincidence! Must be something in the air that drew me to this painting though.

  4. Hanging laundry on a tenement rooftop | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] John Sloan sure had a thing for painting rooftops. […]

  5. Spring flowers arrive on a rainy Village sidewalk | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] artists painted the moods, rhythms, and rituals of the seasons like John Sloan, who moved to New York from Philadelphia in 1904 and […]

  6. The dreams of the pigeon trainer on a city roof | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] had a thing for rooftops. His roof paintings “convey a sense of the freedom and escape the roofs provided from the suffocating confines of […]

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