Brooklyn Bridge No. 6 (Swaying) – a proof before steelfacing

John Marin (1870-1953), Brooklyn Bridge No. 6 (Swaying), a proof before steelfacing, 1913, etching. Reference: Zigrosser 112. Signed in pencil lower right, also signed and dated 13 and B.B. 6 in the plate, lower left. From the small group of prints printed in 1913 by Marin (Zigrosser estimated about 12), before the later (1924) New Republic edition. Printed on a wove paper, 11 x 9 inches.

A very fine, rich impression, printed by the artist. This impression includes much inking on the plate mark, creating a frame for the composition, and substantial plate tone. The matrix is slightly larger than the later impressions, due to the plate mark inking (11 x 9, as opposed to 10 5/8 x 8 3/4); and the sheet is much larger (18 3/4 x 14 3/4, compared to 14 x 10 7/8 inches).

First printed by the artist and published by Alfred Stieglitz in 1913, a small number of later impressions were printed as the work was slated to be included in the New Republic portfolio Six American Etchings.Only a few impressions were pulled before it was replaced by MarinsDowntown, the El. Carl Zigrosser was unaware thatBrooklyn Bridge No. 6 (Swaying)was ever included in the Set when he wrote the Marin catalogue; later, when he learned of its initial inclusion, he suggested that perhaps the plate had broken early in the run, and this hypothesis has been repeated through the years. But this is unlikely since the printer, Peter Platt (1859-1934), Americas most distinguished artists printer of the period, worked alone, and he was hardly prone to breaking copper plates. A more likely explanation is that Downtown the El was substituted because it is about the same size as the other prints in the set, whereas the Brooklyn Bridge No. 6 print is much larger; a plate of the same size would facilitate the printing of a large edition. Each of the plates was purchased by the NewRepublic, and the papers records for 1924-5, as well as the plates used for the set have been lost or destroyed.

Collections: PMA, MMA (Stieglitz Collection), MoMA (Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller); AIC (Stieglitz Collection), Fogg.