Shop Girls, ca. 1900
William Glackens (American, 1870–1938)
Pastel and watercolor on illustration board; 13 5/8 x 14 3/8 in. (34.6 x 36.5 cm)
Gift of A. E. Gallatin, 1923 (23.230.1)
Glackens began his professional career in 1892 as an artist-reporter for the Philadelphia Press. After he moved to New York in 1896, he continued to support himself as an illustrator, contributing drawings to McClure's, Harper's Weekly, The Saturday Evening Post, and other magazines. Although this drawing has not been connected to a particular commission, it exhibits the traits that ensured Glackens' success as a commercial artist, especially a focus on forms and details that signify urban energy. Glackens seems here to have responded to portrayals by Edgar Degas of saleswomen and their customers, which he might have seen in New York or during his visits to Paris in 1895–96. Glackens' drawing exhibits the Ashcan painters' gentle brand of Realism. Although these young women would spend all day on their feet, serving customers in a department store, they are shown simply enjoying one another's company before or after work.