John Sloan was born in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. When he was five years old, his family moved to Philadelphia. To help support them, Sloan dropped out of high school and taught himself etching. Eventually he acquired enough skill at drawing and lettering to become a free-lance artist. In 1892 he joined the staff of the Philadelphia Inquirer as an illustrator—a popular job for aspiring young artists in the 1890s, Sloan became acquainted with such artists as William Glackens, George Luks, Everett Shinn, James Preston, and George Fox, all of whom worked at one time or another at the Philadelphia Press. Sloan worked for this newspaper from 1895 to 1903. In 1904 he moved to New York, and in 1906 he exhibited at the American Watercolor Society. As a founding member of the group of artists known as The Eight, he exhibited with them at the Macbeth Galleries in 1908. In 1910, along with other artists in the circle of Robert Henri, Sloan participated in the Exhibition of Independent Artists. In 1912 he became a member of the editorial board of the radical journal The Masses and also began teaching art privately. In 1916 he joined the faculty of the Art Students League. Ill health forced Sloan to stop painting in 1938, but by 1945 he had recovered and began working again. At the time of his death in 1951 plans were under way for a retrospective exhibition of his work at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
William H. Truettner and Roger B. Stein, editors, with contributions by Dona Brown, Thomas Andrew Denenberg, Judith K. Maxwell, Stephen Nissenbaum, Bruce Robertson, Roger B. Stein, and William H. Truettner Picturing Old New England: Image and Memory (Washington, D.C.; New Haven, Conn; and London: National Museum of American Art with Yale University Press, 1999)