Recent Museum Acquisitions Included in “Night Vision” exhibition

"Moonlight: The Pond," 1906, photogravure by Edward Steichen, 1879–1973. Museum Purchase, Gridley W. Tarbell II Fund. Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

“Moonlight: The Pond,” 1906, photogravure by Edward Steichen, 1879–1973. Museum Purchase, Gridley W. Tarbell II Fund. Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

The Museum as acquired two significant works of art for the collection that are currently on view in Night Vision: Nocturnes in American Art, 1860-1960. Edward Steichen’s exquisite photogravure Moonlight: The Pond, 1906, extends the Museum’s comprehensive photography collection. The motif of moonlight peeking through lines of trees over a pond was one that Steichen returned to repeatedly, and this specific image, taken in 1904 in Mamaroneck, New York, is particularly iconic. Using it as a template for his experiments with early color photography, Steichen created three prints of this photograph onto which he layered light-sensitive gums to produce colored images. He then reproduced the image as a black-and-white photogravure in Alfred Stieglitz’s publication Camera Work in 1906. Because the underlying goal of the journal was to establish photography as a fine art, the photogravures were of the highest quality.

‘Smokehounds,” 1934, etching by Reginald Marsh, American, 1898-1954. Museum Purchase, Barbara Cooney Porter Fund, Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

Reginald Marsh’s Smokehounds, 1934, is a rare etching, printed in an edition of 13. It is among the most gripping renderings of New York life during the Great Depression. The print focuses on a collapsing drunkard and his downtrodden companions who frequent New York’s Bowery, a socially-turbulent area at the time. Marsh captured the night-time scene with the keen eye of a journalist. He approaches this work with the skills of an artist who is well versed in the history of art. In its ambitious figurative composition and the technical mastery of the medium, Marsh was clearly influenced by Rembrandt van Rijn’s prints including the Descent from the Cross (in the BCMA’s collection).

 

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