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“Dempsey and Firpo” by George Bellows

“Dempsey and Firpo” by George Bellows

“Dempsey and Firpo” by George Bellows depicts the boxing match between Jack Dempsey and Luis Firpo on September 14, 1923.

The painting depicts the dramatic moment when Firpo knocked Dempsey out of the ring, even though Dempsey was the eventual winner that night.

Painted in the style of the Ashcan School movement, it has become Bellows’ most famous painting. Bellows gave himself a cameo as the balding man at the extreme left of the picture.

The fight was a historic boxing fight. It was the first time that a Latin American fighter challenged for the World Heavyweight title, and it was one of the defining matches of Dempsey’s career.

Dempsey had been champion since 1919, and Firpo was one of the top heavyweights of the world. Eighty thousand fans paid to see the fight live at the Polo Grounds in New York City.

In the aftermath, Dempsey and Firpo both became icons. Dempsey later lost his Heavyweight title to Gene Tunney. He did military service and opened a restaurant in New York before dying in 1983.

Firpo became revered in Argentina and most of Latin America. There are several streets and avenues named after him and a football team in El Salvador. He died a wealthy man in 1960 in Buenos Aires.

Dempsey and Firpo

  • Title:               Dempsey and Firpo
  • Also:               Dempsey Through The Ropes
  • Artist:              George Bellows
  • Date:               1924
  • Medium:         Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:    Height: 129.5 cm (51 ″); Width: 160.6 cm (63.2 ″)
  • Category:        American Artist
  • Museum:         Whitney Museum of American Art

George Bellows

George Bellows (1882 – 1925) was an American realist painter known for his bold depictions of urban life in New York City.

Bellows was part of the Ashcan School, an artistic movement in the United States during the early 20th century.

Best known for works portraying daily life scenes in New York, often in the city’s poorer neighborhoods. The movement has been seen as symbolic of the spirit of political rebellion of the period.

George Bellows

Tour of New York Museums


“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”
– George Bellows


Photo Credit: 1) George Bellows [Public domain]

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