The Jitney, ca. 1915
John Sloan (American, 1871–1951)
Oil on canvas; 20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm)
George A. Hearn Fund, 1940 (40.122)
In 1914 Sloan and his wife Dolly spent the first of five summers in Gloucester, Massachusetts, a coastal resort town that had long been popular with artists. There, Sloan expanded his subject interests beyond the urban experience, focusing instead on the rural landscape and village life. Probably painted during Sloan's second summer in Gloucester, The Jitney shows six figures chasing after a bus that, according to one contemporary advertisement, traveled north from Freshwater Cove to Gloucester, then around the harbor to East Gloucester. Sloan concentrates on light, color, and the contrast between complementary hues, as in the vivid reddish gold hue of the middle ground and the bluish background. Sloan's experiments with color reflect the influence of Post-Impressionist paintings that he saw at the 1913 Armory Show in New York and the theories of Hardesty Maratta, an artist and paint manufacturer who believed that color could not only describe a scene but signal its emotional qualities.