Night Windows, 1910
Etching, 5 1/4 x 7"
Gift of Barbara B. Millhouse, 1976.2.2
Trained as a newspaper sketch artist, John Sloan often turned quickly-observed scenes into the subjects of his prints and paintings. Streets and alleys, bars and restaurants, city parks and squaresSloan haunted all of them in search of vignettes to paint. He was also given to capturing the scene outside his own window. In his 1910 Night Windows, from the New York City Life series, the artist takes advantage of the perfect view that the dark night affords him into the brightly-lit apartments across the way. At the left, a weary housewife takes laundry in off the line while a child cries in the room behind her. Meanwhile, on the roof of her building, a shadowy figure who may be her husband leans forward to peer into the apartment of a shapely woman lifting her hands to her hair. The disheveled bed in the next room underscores her sexuality. Clearly, Sloan has a point to make about the sinister quality of the man's voyeurismbut the artist also subtly implicates himself and his audience in this unsavory activity.