Theresa F. Bernstein, In the Elevated, 1916
Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, American Art Trust Fund, 2011.2
Theresa Bernstein enrolled in 1907 at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women before moving in 1912 to New York City, where she studied with William Merritt Chase at the Art Students League. Working before women were granted equal rights, Bernstein often concealed her first name so that her work would be judged fairly by all-male exhibition juries. She became known as the ninth member of “The Eight,” some of whose members were termed the “Ashcan School” for their realistic depictions of urban life in working-class neighborhoods. This work depicts a passenger car on the Ninth Avenue Elevated railway, which Bernstein took between her parents' apartment on West 94th Street and her studio on West 55th Street. Like Honoré Daumier's Third Class Carriage (1856-58), on view at the Legion of Honor, In the Elevated captures the experience of modern city dwellers who are placed in close physical proximity but remain psychologically isolated from one another.
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