The Ironworkers at Noontime
During one of his annual trips to Wheeling, West Virginia, where he had spent his teens, Anshutz sketched workers taking a break in the yard of a nail factory, the sort of dreary industrial setting from which most painters averted their eyes. He then painted the men frozen in classical poses derived from life-drawing instruction, which he had received as Thomas Eakins's student at the Pennsylvania Academy. The painting's subtle narrative has invited multiple interpretations. For example, in 1884 Procter & Gamble quoted the image in an advertisement for Ivory Soap by adding washtubs to the foreground. Other commentators have read in it a message of labor's toll upon the men or a celebration of relations between workers and employers. Recent scholars have considered it a nostalgic account of skilled laborers in the face of impersonal factory production and an emblem of rugged masculinity in the face of feminized late-nineteenth-century American culture. Thomas Pollock Anshutz (October 5, 1851 – June 16, 1912) was an American painter and teacher. Co-founder of The Darby School and leader at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.