One of my fellow bloggers on ChicagoNow put together a list of the top 6 paintings with the word 'night' in the title. I'd like to add one more: "Stag Night at Sharkey's" by George Bellows. Bellows painted this dynamic lurid portrait of boxing in 1909. A time when boxing was illegal in New York City and elsewhere. Except if the match was at an athletic club. Bellows witnessed one such fight at a New York bar, masquerading as an athletic club. He made a number of prints and paintings of what he saw.
Bellows was a member of the Ashcan School, a group of painters who were part of the Realism and Naturalism in the arts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They wanted to reflect life in all its raw and stark verisimilitude. One of the leaders in this movement, Robert Henri, said that "he wanted the paint to be as real as mud, as the clods of horse-shit and snow that froze on Broadway in the winter."
"Stag Night at Sharkey's" hangs in the Cleveland Museum of Art. One critic thought the two fighters resemble noble stags with horns locked in battle. He had a lesser opinion of the spectators, whose faces he thought were contorted with a lust for bloody violence.
Bellows was one of the first painters I got to know. Back in grammar school at St. Pancratius in Brighton Park, my 8th-grade teacher, Sister Clarissa had us paste 5 X 7 reproductions of famous paintings in a secretarial notebook. "Stag Night at Sharkey's" was one them. It was Sister Clarissa's way of teaching art---through appreciation. She probably was as artistically challenged as most of her charges. But this simple exercise left a lasting imprint on my imagination and curiosity. Wherever you are, Sister, I thought you'd like to know.