Crossing paths on 59th Street on a blustery day

Helen Farr Sloan was the former student—and then second wife—of Ashcan artist John Sloan. When her husband died in 1951, she remained devoted to promoting his art and achievements.

But Farr Sloan was an exceptional artist in her own right. Born in New York, she became a printmaker and painter who had something to say about the 20th century city.

“59th Street, New York City,” from 1930, takes us to a bustling Manhattan block on a blustery day. Hats are blown off, snow is shoveled, a woman approaches a taxi, people in drab coats shielding themselves with umbrellas go on their way.

The scene could be a moment of human interaction in any Depression-era town. Yet the colorful lights and tall buildings in the distance evoke a modern and detached metropolis where it’s unlikely any of these mostly faceless figures will ever cross paths again.

[The painting belongs to the Delaware Art Museum, which has a deep collection of works by John Sloan and Helen Farr Sloan]

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13 Responses to “Crossing paths on 59th Street on a blustery day”

  1. Penelope Bianchi Says:

    You are doing such a lovely, and exciting view into New York in the old days……what a city! Bravo and thank you!!

  2. Mykole Mick Dementiuk Says:

    57 & Lexington was a vicious brutal windy street on a cold winters day. I worked at a messenger’s office on Lex and a majority of the other messengers used 56 street to get out of the wind but I didn’t care, I loved it! Turning the corner onto 57 street, and POW! the fierce wind would blow you away! Oh New York, I will always love you…

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I can see how that corner would be a wind tunnel. I’m over that way often these days and will have to test it out during the next windstorm!

  3. Crossing paths on 59th Street on a blustery day | Real Estate Marketplace Says:

    […] Source: FS – NYC Real Estate Crossing paths on 59th Street on a blustery day […]

  4. Carolyn Lalli Says:

    This charming artwork has a naif quality about it. I was especially amazed at the detailing of the Bishop’s Crook lampposts. One can almost feel the blustery wind by exaining the gentleman in the foreground who reacts by leaning forward, his coat wrapped around his curving back. Thank you for posting and sharing this truly wonderful painting.

  5. countrypaul Says:

    I love how this captures the romantic vision of New York in winter; no matter the weather, New Yorkers love New York because, well, it’s New York. Anything else is less; here’s where the action is. (Not saying that’s always true, but it feels that way to me looking at this archetypical scene.)

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I agree about the romantic vision; the painting feels like it’s more about the city itself, the energy and rhythm, than the individual people who walk its streets.

  6. mvschulze Says:

    Wonderful painting, and glimpse into a moment in time, in Manhattan! M:-)

  7. Chung Wong Says:

    Plaza Art Rooms was at 5-7 E 59th St, open 1915-1977.

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