Forty-two Kids

George Wesley Bellows

(American; b. Columbus, Ohio 1882–d. New York City, 1925)


Forty-two Kids



Oil on canvas

42 x 60 1/4 in. (106.7 x 153.0 cm)

Museum Purchase, William A. Clark Fund

Accession Number: 


Forty-two Kids depicts a band of lanky boys frolicking on the sunny docks of New York City’s East River in August 1907. In turn-of-the-century slang, “kids” referred specifically to streetwise tenement dwellers, who were frequently the offspring of recently arrived, working-class immigrants living in East Side neighborhoods.

When it was exhibited in New York in 1908, the painting was ridiculed and derided for its adventurous subject and brash style; one critic called it a “tour de force of absurdity.” Nonetheless, Forty-two Kids was purchased within a year of its completion, marking the second sale of Bellows’ career and his first to a private collector.