Nude by Stream
Oil and tempera on gessoed masonite, 26-1/4 x 20 inches
Signed lower left: Isabel Bishop
Isabel Bishop is recognized, along with Reginald Marsh and the Soyer brothers, as an outstanding realist of the so-called “Fourteenth Street School” of the 1930s. Working out of a studio on Union Square, New York City, she was an astute observer of the city’s life and some of the most memorable, expressive and satisfying images of American women are found in her sensitive and introspective nudes.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Bishop studied at the Wicker School in Detroit. In 1918, she came to New York City to study illustration at the New York School of Applied Design for Women. Fascinated with the chaotic turmoil of modernism that followed the 1913 Armory Show, she transferred to The Art Students League in 1920, finding its ambiance both inspirational and liberating. She first studied with Cubist Max Weber but soon switched to Kenneth Hayes Miller who taught renaissance techniques adapted to contemporary subject matter.
Her style, both tonal and realistic, does not suggest movement as much as the momentary suspension of movement of figures caught in mid-gesture, such as Nude by Stream. Willem de Kooning, a friend who deeply admired Bishop’s art, once remarked: “That woman’s nudes are the best damned nudes ever.” This painting is illustrated in Helen Yglesias book, Isabel Bishop, Rizzoli International Publications, New York.