Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Italian. Well, sort of.

New York City, 
1912-2011


During a recent stay in New York, I walked over to 139 West 10th Street, curious to see where the Italian restaurant depicted in John Sloan’s 1912 painting Renganeschi’s Saturday Night had been located. Sloan lived only two blocks away and is known to have eaten there, where he was once joined by Robert Henri, a fellow artist of the Ashcan School of realist painters. During the early twentieth century, artists and writers living in Greenwich Village were fascinated by their neighbors, often making them the subject of their art.1 Capturing the social life of the city, Sloan’s painting features three young women sitting around a table on a girls’ night out; the scene looks so familiar that updating the clothing style would bring it into the present day. In fact, it was fascinating to see that there was still a restaurant in the old building, and that things had not changed as much as I might have expected.