A snowstorm on Broadway in the Theater District

Painter John Sloan, born in Philadelphia, moved to New York City in 1904. Throughout his life he depicted scenes of city residents doing everything from dreaming on rooftops to commuting on the elevated to hanging laundry to partying on Election night.

But “The White Way,” from 1927, is the first Sloan painting I’m aware of that shows the action and activity of Broadway’s Theater District, specifically at 53rd Street. It belongs to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which states this about Sloan’s New York subjects and this work in particular:

“The bustling city streets and crowded tenements supplied the artist with stimulating new subject matter, as seen in this work, which depicts bundled-up pedestrians on a snowy evening at the corner of Broadway and Fifty-Third Street. Recalling the chilly evening in which he sketched this scene, Sloan later commented, “The realization of my surroundings had been frozen in my memory, but I feel that my suffering has been compensated for.”

A site called The Art Story has this comment: “The inspiration for this work was made from a sketch he actually drew in the freezing cold, capturing the atmosphere and energy of a spontaneous moment. While the subject of city life had been a recurring theme for Sloan, this later work celebrated the city as bright and dynamic, with less attention on the individual experience than his earlier Ashcan School paintings. The work is more observational in nature, rendered in a lighter palette and looser brushstrokes that gives it a more impressionistic feel. This represented a general shift in Sloan’s work; soon after this painting was finished, he would shift much of his attention to landscape paintings, portraits, and nudes.”

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5 Responses to “A snowstorm on Broadway in the Theater District”

  1. beth Says:

    what a great painting

  2. Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

    No matter how cold it was that night girls had the beautiful charm and common sense to show off their legs. I love it!

  3. countrypaul Says:

    It really captures the spirit of the moment. I’m glad he thought to get more of the moment than just a sketch.

  4. James W Says:

    Any insight regarding the hugely flared knee-boots on the young flapper women? They seem kind of like like galoshes and the fact that three of the figures wear them makes me wonder about the winter footwear fashion/function of the time.

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    That’s a great observation; I don’t think I’ve ever seen boots like these. Does anyone know?

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