Connecticut-born Peggy Bacon received her artistic training at several schools in New York City, including the Art Students League, where from 1915 to 1920 she studied painting with some of the New York art world’s leading figures, including Kenneth Hayes Miller, John Sloan, and George Bellows. Around 1917, she became interested in printmaking, but since the league didn’t offer it at the time, she taught herself drypoint, which became her principal medium throughout much of the 1920s.
Bacon regularly showed her prints at the Whitney Studio Club, founded in 1918 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, which the artist’s husband, Alexander Brook, served as assistant director. In addition to an exhibition space, the club also offered evening classes, where participants could hone their figure drawing skills for an annual fee of just $5.00. Frenzied Effort captures one of these sessions, held in 1925, which included artists such George “Pop” Hart, the bespectacled gentleman with a pipe in the back row; Mabel Dwight, seated to the lower left, wearing a hat; and Bacon herself, discreetly tucked into the last row, third from the left.