George Luks, Noontime, St. Botolph Street, Boston, c. 1923
From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:
Luks disdained the Boston painters who remained in their prim studios painting hired nude models. He exclaimed, “Why didn’t they look at Beacon Hill, Commonwealth Avenue, the Swan Boats, fruit vendors on Charles Street, the squalor of St. Botolph Street and the vigorous L. Street Brownies?” Luks threw himself into painting these subjects in Boston. In “Noontime, St. Botolph Street, Boston,” he depicted the scene outside Margarett’s studio at midday when the shadows cast by the awnings were very pronounced against the old-fashioned bow-front facades of the buildings.
In addition to painting the striped awnings against the yellow- and red-brick facades on St. Botolph Street, Luks also included an iceman carrying a block of ice with tongs. To the left is probably a part of the ice wagon’s wheel. Before refrigerators were introduced into most homes in the 1930s, food was stored in iceboxes, and blocks of ice were delivered door to door by an iceman. Luks’s inclusion of this unglamorous figure was typical of the Ashcan school artists, who made working people, from longshoremen to scrubwomen, the subjects of their pictures. Luks painted a related work entitled “St. Botolph Street,” depicting women sitting on their stoops socializing on a summer’s evening.