Exhibitions: Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties

George Wesley Bellows: Two Women

This ambitious work is an homage to an Italian Renaissance painting by Titian titled Sacred and Profane Love, circa 1514 (Galleria Borghese, Rome), in which a nude and a clothed figure are paired to contrast pure love (unclothed) with its worldly counterpart. In the twenties, when Freudian ideas were as current as the latest fashions, viewers most likely read George Bellows’s variation on Titian’s theme as an embodiment of the vying impulses of sexual openness and repression. The assertively lit nude and her clothed counterpart appear in the well-recognized parlor setting of Bellows’s home in rural Woodstock, New York.