Etching and aquatint
Platemark: 20.1 x 24.9 cm (7 15/16 x 9 13/16 in.); Sheet: 27.5 x 33.7 cm (10 13/16 x 13 1/4 in.)
Gift of Ralph King 1926.123
© Delaware Art Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Catalogue raisonné: Morse 186
The Golden Swan, or Hell Hole bar, depicted here, was the inspiration for the saloon in the Eugene O’Neill’s play The Iceman Cometh,written in 1939.
The Golden Swan bar, nicknamed the Hell Hole, was a gathering place for the Ashcan artists, writers, and intellectuals in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. John Sloan’s etching shows the back room of the establishment, which allowed female patrons and was patrolled by the bouncers known as Lefty Louis and John Bull, seen at the doorway. The cheerful clientele enjoy alcohol, intimate conversation, and heavy flirtation. Sloan depicted the playwright Eugene O’Neill at the upper right, whose plays include characters on the fringes of society. Sloan’s use of aquatint, a printmaking technique that creates tone in the image, adds to the smoky atmosphere of the late-night scene.
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