The Old Print Shop

John Sloan


"Consistency is the quality of a stagnant mind"

John Sloan was born in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania on August 2, 1871, and moved with his family to Philadelphia in 1876.  

His first job as an artist was in 1891 working as an illustrator for the "Philadelphia Enquirer."  The next year he began studying with Thomas Anshutz at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  While at the academy John Sloan met Robert Henri, and he started spending time in Henri’s studio along with George Luks, William Glackens, and Everett Shinn.  This group would become known as the Philadelphia Five.  Sloan left the "Enquirer" and took a position with the "Philadelphia Press" in 1895.  Robert Henri encouraged Sloan to take painting more seriously and in 1896 he began painting portraits.

Sloan married Anna Maria Wall (known as Dolly) in 1901.  After leaving the "Philadelphia Press" in 1903 the couple moved to New York City to join Robert Henri, George Luks, William Glackens, and Everett Shinn and to pursue a career as an artist and printmaker.  This group had trouble showing paintings at the National Academy of Design, which was a dominating institution at that time.  In 1908 Arthur B. Davies, William Glackens, George Luks, Ernest Lawson, Maurice Prendergast, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan under the leadership of Robert Henri arranged a protest exhibition at MacBeth Gallery in NYC aimed at the Academy.  The show was a media sensation and the artists involved were named "The Eight."  Sloan would later be associated with "The Ashcan School."  The group was largely responsible for helping organize the 1913 Armory Show which introduced Modern European art to America.  John Sloan exhibited his 1912 painting "McSorley's Bar" in this Show.  In 1913, Sloan also sold his first painting "Nude in a Green Scarf" to a Philadelphia collector.

In 1912 John Sloan became director of the "Masses" a socialist magazine - inviting many fellow artists to submit images for the publication. He began teaching at the Art Students League in 1914, taking a full-time position in 1916.  Sloan continued to teach at the league until 1938 serving as the president of the League in 1930.  Through the years he had hundreds of students, some of the notable names include Reginald Marsh, Raphael Soyer, and Alexander Calder.

After the death of Dolly in 1943, John Sloan married a longtime friend, Helen Farr.