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The Art of JAMA |

Pinkerton Riot, Pittsburgh Raymond Simboli

Thomas B. Cole, MD, MPH
JAMA. 2016;315(10):964-965. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.14151.
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On the night of July 5, 1892, 300 enforcers from the Pinkerton National Detective Agency struggled with thousands of angry steel workers over control of the Homestead Steel Mill near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pinkerton Riot, Pittsburgh, by the Italian American painter Raymond Simboli (1894-1964), places the viewer in the thick of the action. Spotty afterimages from an unseen arc lamp at the top of the picture freeze the movements of the antagonists in a shower of scotoma (JAMA cover, October 26, 2011). It is difficult to get a fix on the combatants, and the picture gives no indication of the reason for the fight. The mounted figure and the man with a club facing the horse appear to be in uniform, but otherwise it is difficult to tell whose side the figures are on or who is winning the battle. From the painting’s point of view, the conflict has no meaning or resolution.

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Raymond Simboli (1894-1964), Pinkerton Riot, Pittsburgh, 1948, American. Oil on canvas. 74.9 × 87 cm. Courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art (http://www.cmoa.org/), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; gift of Daniel McFadden and Beverlee Tito Simboli McFadden, 2008.74.1. Photograph © 2016 Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.

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