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Born in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, Edward Henry Potthast (1857-1927) studied at the Cincinnati Art Academy before traveling to Europe at age thirty. While on the continent, he attended art schools in Antwerp, Munich, and Paris. There he was influenced by innovative European artistic styles and movements like Impressionism. In 1890 he returned to Cincinnati where he established himself as a painter and illustrator. Two years later, he moved to New York City, and remained there until his death in 1927.

The Bathing Hour, painted in 1915, is an example of Potthast’s later and most popular period. Three years earlier, he had begun concentrating on beach scenes, particularly those along the coasts of Massachusetts and New York. The Bathing Hour, with its bright colors, loose brushwork, and everyday subject matter, illustrates the influence of Impressionism on American artists.