At the same time that Bellows presents us with an image of a contemporary sporting event, he also delves into a theme with a long history in art. By focusing on the physical power and intense engagement of the two fighters, we are invited to see them as battling warriors, a subject that has been treated since prehistoric times.

For many years, public prize fighting was illegal in the United States but was permitted among members of private clubs such as Tom Sharkey’s Athletic Club, an establishment frequented by Bellows. Despite insisting that he knew little about the sport, Bellows depicted various aspects of boxing in his paintings, prints, and drawings. The subject was fraught with drama and alluded to more general concepts such as competition, battle, victory, and defeat. This print is related to a work painted by Bellows in 1909 and now in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Artist George Wesley Bellows, American, 1882-1925
Title
  • A Stag at Sharkey's
Date 1917
Medium lithograph printed in black ink on wove paper
Dimensions Image: 18 5/8 × 23 7/8 inches (47.3 × 60.6 cm)
Sheet: 22 × 27 3/8 inches (55.9 × 69.5 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Mrs. H. G. Salsinger in memory of her husband
Accession Number 59.185
Department Prints, Drawings & Photographs
Not On View
Signed Signed on stone, lower center: Geo Bellows
In pencil, lower right: Geo Bellows
Inscriptions Inscribed in pencil, lower left: No 13
Titled, lower center: A Stag at Sharkey's
1959-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
The American Scene: Artists from 1910-1945. Exh. cat., Krasl Art Center. St. Joseph, Michigan, 1985, p. 13.