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America, 20th century
Watercolor on heavy white wove paper
Support: Wove paper
Sheet: 41 x 48 cm (16 1/8 x 18 7/8 in.); Overall: 39.4 x 47.3 cm (15 1/2 x 18 5/8 in.)
Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2015.62
John Marin is widely regarded as the greatest American watercolorist of the 20th century. With its dynamic brushwork and nonnaturalistic use of color, Lower Manhattan exemplifies the bold approach to the medium that Marin forged between 1911 and 1915.
The building in the foreground may have been inspired by the Broadway-Chambers Building (1899–1900), the first structure in New York City designed by architect Cass Gilbert. Although the office building is not located on the riverfront as is suggested here, it is brick red and has repeating rows of six windows. The jagged lines radiating from it suggest the energy of the modern city. In the distance, the Brooklyn Bridge spans the East River.
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