Charcoal club


Actually two clubs with the same name in separate cities, a Charcoal Club was established in 1883 in Baltimore, and another was organized in Philadelphia. Rebellion against tradition underlay both entities, but other than similar purpose they shared no direct ties. In Philadelphia, rebellion against the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts was the primary motive. The Philadelphia Charcoal Club remains the better known. Leaders were Robert Henri and John Sloan and other members included Everett Shinn, William Glackens, George Luks, Stirling Calder and Edward Davis. Most of them studied with Thomas Anshutz. Their literary heroes were Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emile Zola, and Henry David Thoreau. This Charcoal Club dissipated in the late 1900s when Henri and Sloan and some of the others moved to New York City and took up Social Realist painting, which was an extension of their non-academic commitments in painting. In Baltimore, The Charcoal Club was a reaction against the prudishness of Baltimore residents who perceived that using nude models was indecent behavior. There the Charcoal Club provided nude models, and one of its most prominent members was Adalbert Volck, a Baltimore dentist and local artist. The Club also assisted in the formation of a Sketch Club, the Art Club of Baltimore and the Bal des Arts. For many years, the wealth of many of the members allowed palatial surroundings for meetings, but that standard diminished with dwindling membership. In the late 20th century, The Charcoal Club still existed in Baltimore, but membership numbered less than fifty. In its prime, The Club held weekly meetings, frequent exhibitions and other social functions. Its historical papers from 1888 to 1970 are in the Maryland Historical Society. Sources:;