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Pinkerton Riot, Pittsburgh

Raymond Simboli (American, 1894–1964)

1948

Medium oil on canvas Measurements H: 29 1/2 x W: 34 1/4 in. (74.93 x 87 cm) Credit Gift of Daniel McFadden and Beverlee Tito Simboli McFadden Accession Number 2008.74.1 Location Gallery 11, Scaife Galleries

Narrative

This painting captures the infamous crackdown against striking workers during the Homestead Steel strike of 1892. The incident has become a hallmark event in the history of labor and industry. Raymond Simboli painted the subject of the strike in two versions. The artist frequently repeated themes, often experimenting with different aesthetic approaches. Both compositions include some of the same figures, such as the horse to the left; the central figure with upraised, bent right arm; the man with the hat at the bottom central edge; and the two wrestling figures toward the bottom right corner. Simboli’s earlier version of the painting, completed c. 1935–1940, was more traditionally representational, with greater detail applied to the various figures and forms (2008.74.6). This painting, the second version, is Cubist-inspired and abstracted. It is a dynamic depiction of the chaotic scene filled with crowds of figures and complex space. Simboli rendered the different figures with uniformity and eliminated significant individual details; this, combined with the flattened, compressed space, enhances the sense of abstract design.