Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Thomas Anshutz


Thomas Pollock Anshutz (October 5, 1851-June 16, 1912) used West Virginia settings and subjects in crafting a reputation as one of the foremost American painters in the realist style. Although he was born in Newport, Kentucky, he reportedly lived in Wheeling, the native city of his mother, Abigail Pollock, from 1868 to 1872, and returned on occasion as a visitor with his wife, Effie Schriver Russell, also from Wheeling. Anshutz studied at the National Academy of Design in New York and went on to become head of the painting department at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

His most famous paintings include The Ironworkers’ Noontime (1880), depicting Wheeling nail factory workers on a lunch break, and Steamboat on the Ohio (1896), a composite painting inspired by cyanotype photographs that Anshutz had taken during preparatory studies, a method he often used. Farmer and His Son Harvesting (1879) is also known to represent the landscape of the Wheeling area. Although much of Anshutz’s work involved portraits and beach scenes, his realistic industrial paintings inspired the term ‘‘Ashcan School’’ for the style of painting practiced by a number of his notable students such as John Sloan, Robert Henri, and William Glackens. Other landscapes by Anshutz include scenes along the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. Anshutz died in Pennsylvania.

Written by Larry Sonis


  1. Cuthbert, John A. Early Art and Artists in West Virginia. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2000.