Everett Shinn (American, 1876–1953)
Oil on canvasboard
13 3/4 x 17 3/4 in. (34.9 x 45.1 cm)
Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), 1967 (67.187.139)
Popular commercial performance venues abounded in New York about 1900 and attracted the Ashcan artists' patronage and professional interest. Just after the turn of the twentieth century, Shinn spent six months abroad, visiting sites and entertainments in London and Paris and acquainting himself with the work of his European counterparts. After his return, Shinn painted Spanish Music Hall under the influence of theater scenes by Edgar Degas, whom he later described as "the greatest painter France ever turned out." As Degas often did, Shinn situates the viewer of his painting among the theater patrons who respond to performers on stage, in this instance a Spanish dancer and her accompanist, who plays the guitar. The setting is probably a theater or vaudeville house in New York, where Spanish singing and dancing were very much in vogue. Although Spanish dancing was deemed unduly sensuous, even indecent, when it emerged as a fad in the 1890s, it gained respectability within a few years, as Shinn signals by including in the audience women, the arbiters of morality.