The butcher cart comes to the downtown slums

Gritty, virile street scenes, tender portraits of humanity, iridescent landscapes: George Luks depicted early 20th century New York with astonishing versatility.

But if there’s one Luks painting that combines all three artistic strengths, it might be The Butcher Cart, which this social realist Ashcan artist completed in 1901.

“George Luks is known for his unromanticized depictions of the slums and crowded market streets of lower Manhattan,” explains the Art Institute of Chicago, which owns the painting.

“In The Butcher Cart, he portrayed a dark view of New York street life, frankly acknowledging modern technology and class stratification,” “An old-fashioned horse-drawn cart packed with butchered pigs lumbers down a slushy street, steered by a man hunched over the reins.”

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8 Responses to “The butcher cart comes to the downtown slums”

  1. Lady G. Says:

    Whew the smell on that as it passed by! No wonder the dog’s following.

  2. Mykola (Mick) Dementiuk Says:

    I remember the 1950s when I was a little boy my mother always took me to the pushcarts that lined Ave C on the Lower East Side, where she would do her shopping, food and various needed household objects. A few times a tired horse and dilapidated carriage stood by, I recall the sleeping horse standing there. Thanks for bringing that distant memory back.

  3. Marilyn Says:

    I love these paintings you post. This one is really IT

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      It’s a new one for me and I agree, it’s everything! Luks really captured something timeless here.

  4. David H Lippman Says:

    Where’s this done? I recognize an elevated line behind it.

  5. Thaddeus Buttmunch MD Says:

    I wonder when most of that stuff was torn down? I know a few tenements still stand there.

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