The Gramercy mansion in a John Sloan painting

He often came across subjects for his work near Washington Square, or Union or Madison Squares.

But in 1912, after moving from Sixth Avenue to 155 East 22nd Street, John Sloan trained his outsider’s eye on Gramercy Park (fellow social realist painter George Bellows’ territory), where he painted two women tending to a baby in a carriage on a warm, lush day.

Sloan “found his subjects in his immediate surroundings; the streets he traveled and the people he encountered were immediately translated to canvas,” wrote Margarita Karasoulas on

“He typically captured New Yorkers going about their routines from the perspective of an outside observer, painting intimate scenes with a window-like viewpoint in order to focus closely and observe the subject undetected.”

I’m curious about the red brick townhouse to the right of the park. This is 1912, and it certainly could have been torn down.

But I wonder if Sloan is giving us a look at the Stuyvesant Fish House at 19 Gramercy Park South.

Built in 1845 for a Whig politician, it was expanded and redone in the 1880s for Old New York scion and railroad magnate Stuyvesant Fish and his party-loving society hostess wife, Mamie.

Sloan’s depiction doesn’t look exactly like the house, seen here in 2010. Artistic license, perhaps?

[Photo: Wikipedia]

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10 Responses to “The Gramercy mansion in a John Sloan painting”

  1. Richard Kenyon Says:

    The older woman in the foreground was probably shocking to the other folks in the park, what with her arms bared to the shoulders, while the younger woman, and the three other females in the left rear ground all appear to be wearing the heavy, all concealing clothes of pre WW! Edwardian times. Oh well, there is always a fashion setter in NYC, no matter what the era is.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Yes, bare arms! I wonder what they would have thought of the miniskirt, which would make its debut 50 or so years later?

  3. petimetra Says:

    The roof is different in shape; nor, if it’s the Fish mansion, does Sloan capture the marked presence of chimneys/brick structures between the dormer windows.

  4. Zoe Says:

    Great minds think alike! I was going to mention the woman’s bare arms also. I see a touch of white at her elbow that matches a bit of white at her shoulder. This makes me think there may have been a transparent sleeve that was even more transparent in the sunlight from the painter’s vantage point. Or a pink or beige sleeve w/ a white cuff at the elbow (?).

    This reminds me of walking into the art building of my high school one day in 1977/78 wearing a vintage tiny b&w houndstooth jacket w/ a light pink leotard camisole underneath & my male friend looking at me w/ saucer-eyes for a second O_O Apparently he thought I’d temporarily lost my mind & left home wearing just the jacket & jeans!

    Appearances can be deceiving — especially in impressionist painting. Which may also be true for the depiction of the building. It looks very close to me — especially for an impressionist painter’s work.

    I LOVE that on the recent photo of the building they’ve left the shutters. So many wooden shutters have been removed from older buildings & houses. (The places in Mannyhatty & Brooklyn I’m familiar with). It was cheaper for landlords to remove them vs. to keep painting them or — if necessary — replace them. Beautiful building. The windows look so dark & mysterious. Very romantic.

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Shutters rock. There are some great shutters around Houston Street in Noho/Nolita.

    • Zoe Says:

      To Ephemeral re.”shutters”

      The best to me are the original kind that actually shut… w/ those iron scrolling bits of hardware to hold them back against the wall & latches. I don’t like the ones that are *fake* — only decorative — as much. Although I feel they are better than nothing.

      I have noticed that the reverse is often true here in CT; on traditional antique colonials (saltboxes etc.) & post-colonial & some older townhouses & brick buildings. In very old photos there are no shutters at all & the houses & buildings look very beautiful in a very stark way. (Vs. a NYC 20th c. landlords saving money way). Whilst the very same houses / buildings have since been outfitted w/ shutters (& other ‘this is what a New England house should look like’ accoutrements such as picket fences vs. our traditional raggedy fieldstone walls).

      This makes me wonder: Which came first? Did people here photographing houses / buildings between the late 1800s & prior to WWI & WWII just not bother to replace the original 18th & early 19th c. shutters; or were they not there in the first place?

  6. trilby1895 Says:

    Evocative of a lovely, peaceful moment in elegant Gramercy Park, Sloan captured, as only he could, the essence of the time, the place. I had not seen this particular painting until today; how did I miss this gem all these years??

  7. krishnakumarsinghblog Says:


  8. trilby1895 Says:

    Once again musing over the painting and thinking that the baby seated in the carriage, say about 1912, would have been approximately one year old. If it had survived childhood which, in those days was still a dicey affair, would have been about 30 years old in 1942. If the child were a boy, he could have been involved in the war. Maybe not. If he’d lived until 1972, just think of the panorama he would have witnessed here not only in New York, but the entire of the U.S. as well as the entire world. When looking at old photos, paintings, I can’t help but wonder about the lives being lived by subjects painted. So fascinating!

    • Ponderit Says:

      I so relate to your comment. I often ponder, what was the life experience of the subjects in painting and old photographs. Love it!

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