Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

Top 20 Greatest NYC Paintings — #8

McSorley’s Cats by John French Sloan

03-22 McSorleys Cats

John French Sloan is yet another Ashcan School painter whose work could fill an entire list of greatest NYC paintings. We chose McSorley’s Cats (less well known than his other ale house image, McSorley’s Bar) for its claustrophobic camaraderie and its effect as a time capsule. Sloan was younger than the ancient East Village drinking establishment, and died just shy of its 100th birthday. This was a time when the ale house could – and did – legally insist that ladies were not welcome. The all-male image gives the tavern a “good old boys’ club” atmosphere, akin to a high class den of thieves. And this was not far from the truth. Notably, the famous wishbones that hang from the famous chandelier above the bar are not visible in this painting, in spite of the legend that they were placed there 12 years earlier.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you Matt, this is one of my favorites. In addition it inspires a hoisting of a mug in tribute to Joseph Mitchell whose essay on Mc Sorley’s is a word picture to accompany John Sloan’s wonderful painting

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