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Randolph College News - Randolph College Sells George Bellows Painting Men of the Docks to National Gallery, London

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Randolph College Sells George Bellows Painting Men of the Docks to National Gallery, London

Agreement maintains masterpiece in public view, while expanding Randolph College's relationships in the United Kingdom.

2/6/2014 8:59:19 AM


Bradley W. Bateman, president of Randolph College, today announced an historic agreement with the National Gallery in London, through which the museum has purchased the painting Men of the Docks (1912) by George Bellows for $25.5 million. The sale, which had long been expected, has now been accomplished in a way that expands the College’s institutional ties in the United Kingdom, maintains this masterpiece on public view and heightens the prominence of the work, which is the first painting by Bellows to enter a museum collection in England.

The agreement fulfills a crucial aspect of the College’s strategic plan, bolstering Randolph’s endowment and strengthening its finances, but is notable especially for making Randolph College the only U.S. educational institution with a collaborative relationship with the National Gallery. Terms of the agreement maintain a connection between the painting and the College’s campus and create enriching new opportunities for the Randolph community. Benefits of the partnership include plans for high-level staff members of the National Gallery to lecture at Randolph College as well as a special internship program for Randolph students that will be established in London with the museum. Building on the College’s existing academic ties with England’s University of Reading, Randolph students studying abroad will be granted special access to the museum’s permanent installation and to classes held at the National Gallery.

"With this sale to the National Gallery, which concludes a process begun in 2007, we confirm the steadily increasing institutional vigor of Randolph College and look forward to continuing the conversations we have begun with the National Gallery," Bateman stated. "We feel proud that an international audience will now become more aware of Randolph and our long stewardship of Men of the Docks, as this painting takes its place among the masterpieces in the National Gallery."

Nicholas Penny, director of the National Gallery, stated, "We are delighted to add the magnificent Men of the Docks by George Bellows to the collection of the National Gallery, expanding our representation of the major traditions of Western European painting by acquiring our first major American work. We look forward to giving the work a place of honor in our rooms and to maintaining the ties we have now established with Randolph College."

Men of the Docks (1912, oil on canvas, 45 3/16 in. x 63 1/2 in.) is an heroically scaled and vigorously painted scene of laborers gathered on the New York City waterfront on a frigid winter day. Part genre painting and part cityscape, it is an outstanding example of the socially engaged, modern realism that was central to American art in the early 20th century, and of which George Bellows was a leading figure. Bellows (1882-1925) exhibited the painting in the Ninth Annual Exhibition at Randolph College (then Randolph-Macon Woman’s College) in 1920, at which time the College purchased the painting directly from the artist. Men of the Docks was recently included in a major retrospective of Bellows’s work in 2012-13, presented at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, London.

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