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Elementary: Dock Builders by George Bellows (Art Card)

George Wesley Bellows (American, 1882 to 1925), Dock Builders, 1916, oil on canvas

See the slide version of the card:

About the Artist

George Bellows was an American painter best known for creating realistic scenes of daily life in New York and coastal areas he visited. He also taught art.


About the Art

The artist painted this while spending the summer in Camden, Maine. He shows men working with horses to move logs for building docks. The artist was interested in showing the reality of working people’s lives.


Look Closely

  • Divide the painting into three equal areas with horizontal lines. What do you see in the top (background)? What do you see in the middle (middle ground)? What do you see in the bottom (foreground)?
  • What do you see that shows nature’s power in this painting? What do you see that shows the power of people and animals?
  • What colors do you see in the painting? If this painting were a color photograph of a real scene, do you think the colors would look the same? Why or why not?



  • How are places defined by their physical features (mountains, bodies of water, etc.)? How would you describe the setting of the painting based on physical features?
  • This painting is called Dock Builders. What do you see the people doing? How do you think this is connected to the title? Why do you think this job might serve a need in this community? 



This painting was done in 1916, over 100 years ago. How do you think the people in this painting are adapting to their environment? How do you think this environment has changed since the time of the painting? Look up Camden, Maine, on Google Earth. Compare images from today to the painting to reflect on change over time.


Learn More

Visit the “Learn More” sidebar to find more information about the work of art and artist and find other works of art that relate to the subject matter, media, and techniques used by the artist.