History And Context


In 1905, John Sloan wrote to his wife, Dolly, saying that he had spent the better part of a day working on a plate of a woman turning out a bedroom light. The image is of just that: a woman, kneeling on her bed, with her hand extended to turn out the lamp. Though a black and white etching, Sloan has convincingly conveyed the bright light of what appears to be a gas lamp; the room behind her is almost entirely in shadow. Sloan’s masterful technique of chiaroscuro–strong contrast between light and dark—conveys a sense of depth as well as drama, juxtaposing the bright light against the harsh darkness of night.

Notable art critic Russell Sturgis remarked about Sloan’s etching in 1906 that it was “charming.” However, on a whole he was not impressed and remarked that “New York life could be best expressed in words.” Sloan had a different opinion and in response to Sturgis, he gifted him a set of etchings. Sturgis returned the “too costly gift,” keeping only Turning Out the Lights as that was the one plate he admired.

More Works by John Sloan In the Collection


Combing Her Hair
John Sloan
1913
Connoisseurs of Prints
John Sloan
1905
Fifth Avenue Critics
John Sloan
1905

Hell Hole
John Sloan
1917
The Lafayette
John Sloan
1928
Landscape with Cow
John Sloan
not dated

McSorley's Back Room
John Sloan
1916
The Picture Buyer
John Sloan
1911
Six O'Clock, Winter
John Sloan
1912