Bellows and the Body

The Real, the Ideal and the Nude

In February 2015 the Barber announced an important new acquisition – Nude, Miss Bentham (1906), an early masterpiece by one of the most significant American painters of the early 20th century. 

This compelling nude study is only the second painting by George Bellows (1882 – 1925) in a British public collection and the first outside London. Bellows was a major figure in the ‘Ashcan School’: a loose grouping of artists who shared an interest in expressing the modernity of their urban environment– specifically New York City – and a social commitment to realism.

Focusing on the human figure, this exhibition features key loans from the US and the UK, including the Terra Foundation for American Art’s comparable oil of 1909, Nude Girl: Miss Leslie Hall, last shown alongside our nude in 1910.  The role of the body in the work of other artists associated with the Ashcan School, both within and outside the Life Class, is also explored. Displayed adjacent near the Barber’s outstanding collection of late 19th-century French paintings – important precursors for Bellows – the show offers visitors a unique opportunity to get to know a remarkable artist, who, although canonical in the States, is still unfamiliar across the Atlantic.

Take a look what our visitors said about the exhibition…

‘What a GREAT little exhibition! Really well researched. Those 2 powerful paintings of the Nudes are monumental’- Linda, Solihull

‘Impressive exhibition demonstrating Bellows’ treatment of the male and female body very well’- Sam & David, Cambridge

‘Wonderful glimpse of a corner of art history rarely seen in this country’- Terry, Birmingham

‘Beautiful. Congratulations!’- Amy, Brooklyn, New York

‘Interesting and informative about an artist I didn’t know’- M. Denham, Malvern

‘Great selection of material that connects and juxtaposes wonderfully’- R. MacLachlan, Selly Oak

‘Excellent exhibition. Great contrasts from the younger to older Bellows’- Yoleane, Exeter

21 October 2016 – 22 January 2017

Lady Barber Gallery


Learn more about George Bellows, the Ashcan School and the way these artists and their contemporaries in Britain treated the nude as a subject in art – and much more – in our dedicated website


It features fascinating essays, specially commissioned films, and information about our artist in residence.





Wednesday 23 November, 2 – 3pm


Join Dr John Fagg on our dedicated exhibition website for an online Q&A. Please submit questions in advance to

Related Events


Friday 4 November, 9.30am – 4.45pm


Booking essential: £30; 25 concessions; £10 students. Student Travel bursaries are available.


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George Bellows and the Urban Scene

Thursday 3 November , 5.30 – 8pm

5.45 – 7pm: Lecture
7 – 8pm: Refreshments


Professor David Peters Corbett,
UEA & Courtauld Institute


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Wednesdays, 1.10 – 2pm


Introducing Bellows and the Aschan School

16 November

Dr John Fagg, Exhibition Curator, University of Birmingam


Bellows and the Barber

23 November

Nicola Kalinsky, Director


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writing workshop

Everyday Wonders

Saturday 19 November, 1.30 – 4pm


Art workshops

Dramatically Lit Protraits

Saturdays 12,19 & 26 November, 11am – 4pm


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