Street Scene (Hester Street)
George Benjamin Luks
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, The City and the Rise of the Modern Woman, 1900–1945
In this scene capturing a crowded pushcart market on Hester Street on New York’s Lower East Side, George Benjamin Luks positions the viewer directly at street level and in close proximity to the array of men, women, and children who throng the foreground. Although the painting has been interpreted as a sympathetic vignette of Jewish life, it shows a closer kinship to Luks’s colleague Robert Henri’s method of representing people as racial or ethnic “types” rather than as specific individuals (see nearby work). Here, the figures are presented in profile, with particular attention to skin color and physical features, while the subject matter relates to a series of caricatures of Jewish peddlers—which engage with anti-Semitic stereotypes—that Luks created for Truth magazine in the 1890s.
Oil on canvas
25 13/16 x 35 7/8 in. (65.5 x 91.1 cm)
frame: 32 1/2 x 43 x 3 in. (82.6 x 109.2 x 7.6 cm) (show scale)
Signed lower right: "George Luks"
Dick S. Ramsay Fund
George Benjamin Luks (American, 1867-1933). Street Scene (Hester Street), 1905. Oil on canvas, 25 13/16 x 35 7/8 in. (65.5 x 91.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 40.339 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 40.339_edited_PS9.jpg)
overall, 40.339_edited_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2019
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