John French Sloan (August 2, 1871 – September 7, 1951) was a U.S. artist. As a member of The Eight, a group of American artists, he became a leading figure in the Ashcan School of realist artists. He was known for his urban genre painting and ability to capture the essence of neighborhood life in New York City, often through his window. Sloan has been called "the premier artist of the Ashcan School who painted the inexhaustible energy and life of New York City during the first decades of the twentieth century", and an "early twentieth-century realist painter who embraced the principles of socialism and placed his artistic talents at the service of those beliefs John Sloan was born in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, in 1871, to James Dixon, a man with artistic leanings who made an unsteady income in a succession of jobs, and Henrietta Sloan, a schoolteacher from an affluent family. Sloan grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he lived and worked until 1904, when he moved to New York City. He and his two sisters were encouraged to draw and paint from an early age. In the fall of 1884 he started high school at Central High School in Philadelphia, where his classmates included William Glackens and Albert C. Barnes. In the spring of 1888, his father experienced a mental breakdown that left him unable to work, and Sloan became responsible, at the age of 16, for the support of his parents and sisters. He dropped out of school in order to work full-time as an assistant cashier at Porter and Coates, a bookstore. His duties were light, allowing him many hours to read the books and examine the works in the store's print department. It was there that Sloan created his earliest surviving works, among which are pen and ink copies after Dürer and Rembrandt. He also began making etchings, which were sold in the store for a modest sum. In 1890, the offer of a higher salary persuaded Sloan to leave his position to work for A. Edward Newton, a former clerk for Porter and Coates who had opened his own stationery store. At Newton's, Sloan designed greeting cards, calendars, and continued with his etchings. In that same year he also attended a night drawing class at the Spring Garden Institute, which provided him his first formal art training. He soon left Newton's business in quest of greater freedom as a freelance commercial artist, but this venture produced little income, leading him in 1892 to take a job in the art department at The Philadelphia Inquirer where he worked as an illustrator. Later that same year, Sloan began taking evening classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under the guidance of Thomas Pollock Anshutz. Among his fellow students was his old schoolmate William Glackens. At a Christmas party in 1892, Sloan met Robert Henri, a charismatic advocate of artistic independence who became a mentor to him. From this point, Sloan began painting seriously, and the two of them have been regarded as the driving force behind the Ashcan School that helped to redefine American Art. Towards the end of 1895, Sloan decided to leave The Philadelphia Inquirer to work in the art department of The Philadelphia Press. His schedule was now less rigid, allowing him more time to paint. Henri offered encouragement, and often sent Sloan reproductions of European artists, such as Manet, Hals, Goya and Velázquez.