Painting Once Owned by Warhol Goes to Barber Institute

George Bellows, Nude: Miss Bentham
George Bellows, Nude: Miss Bentham, 1906.
Photo courtesy Barber Institute.

A nude painted by George Bellows, formerly in Andy Warhol’s collection, has been bought by the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham, England. Warhol owned the canvas from 1985 to ’87, when he died.

Nude: Miss Bentham (1906) is only the second Bellows painting to take up residence in England, says the museum, following the National Gallery’s purchase last year of the 1912 canvas Men of the Docks. The nude comes from a private US collection via New York art dealer Collisart, according to the museum, which points out in a press release that this is its first nude and its second painting by a Yankee.

The Ashcan school of painters, of which Bellows (1882-1925) was a part along with Robert Henri, William Glackens, and John Sloan, were best known for their depictions of gritty urban life. Perhaps Bellows’s best-known canvas, Dempsey and Firpo (1924), resides at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and depicts the 1923 prizefight between Jack Dempsey and Luis Angel Firpo. Bellows was the subject of a 2013 retrospective organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Housed in a 1939 Art Deco building designed by architect Robert Atkinson, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts is part of the University of Birmingham and was founded by Lady Barber, a real estate heir. Its painting collection includes examples by Botticelli, Bellini, Veronese, Rubens, Ingres, Van Gogh and Gauguin, among others.

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