William James Glackens was an American realist painter and one of the founders of the Ashcan School, which rejected the formal boundaries of artistic beauty laid-down by the conservative National Academy of Design.
He is also known for his work in helping Albert C. Barnes to acquire the European paintings that form the nucleus of the famed Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. His dark-hued, vibrantly painted street scenes and depictions of daily life in pre-WW I New York and Paris first established his reputation as a major artist.
His later work was brighter in tone and showed the strong influence of Renoir. During much of his career as a painter, Glackens also worked as an illustrator for newspapers and magazines in Philadelphia and New York City.
Glackens was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where his family had lived for many generations. William had two siblings: an older sister, Ada, and an older brother, cartoonist and illustrator Louis Glackens.
He graduated from the prestigious Central High School in 1890. Throughout his school years, he showed a great interest in and aptitude for drawing and drafting.