Since the early twentieth century, John Marin has been considered an important member of the group of modern artists-including Georgia O'Keeffe, Arthur Dove, and Marsden Hartley-who were associated with Alfred Stieglitz and his New York galleries. Although Marin had dabbled in art since childhood and went to work in an architect's office, he did not become a serious artist until he met Stieglitz in 1909, when Marin was almost forty years old. His fame was established early on as one of America's premier watercolorists, and his preferred subjects were landscapes. Most of his landscapes were done in Maine during the summer; the rest of the year he lived in Cliffside, New Jersey, and made frequent trips to New York City. St. Paul's, Manhattan is one of several architectural studies he made in the 1910s-in a variety of media (watercolor, pencil, and etching)-that capture the energy and movement of the bustling metropolis in an era when skyscrapers began to take over the skyline. Here, however, Marin celebrates a landmark of colonial America-Saint Paul's Chapel, completed in 1766-by transforming it into a modern Cubo-Futurist tower.
In conjunction with one of his Photo-Secession shows, Marin wrote in Camera Work about his New York watercolors: "Shall we consider the life of a great city as confined simply to the people and animals on its streets and in its buildings? Are the buildings themselves dead? … I see great forces at work: great movements; the large buildings and the small buildings; the warring of the great and the small; influences of one mass on another greater or smaller mass…. While these powers are at work pushing, pulling, sideways, downwards, upwards, I can hear the sound of their strife and there is great music being played. And so I try to express graphically what a great city is doing."
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left, in watercolor): MARIN 14
the artist (from 1914; to Stieglitz); Alfred Stieglitz, New York (possibly by 1915–d. 1946; his estate, 1946–49; gift to MMA)
New York. 291. "Exhibition of Water Colors, Oil Paintings, Etchings, Drawings, Recent and Old by John Marin," February 23–March 26, 1915, no catalogue (checklist no. 5).
New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. "Pioneers of Modern Art in America," April 9–May 19, 1946, no. 90.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "From the Alfred Stieglitz Collection: An Extended Loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," May 22–August 12, 1951, no catalogue (checklist no E.L.51.668; loan extended to June 9, 1958).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fourteen American Masters: Paintings from Colonial Times to Today," October 16, 1958–January 4, 1959, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings and Watercolors by John Marin," February 3–March 19, 1981, no catalogue.
Canberra. Australian National Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," March 1–April 27, 1986, unnumbered cat. (p. 49).
Brisbane. Queensland Art Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," May 7–July 1, 1986, unnumbered cat.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "John Marin's New York: 1910–1936," August 23–November 9, 1997, no catalogue.
Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "New York et l'art moderne: Alfred Stieglitz et son cercle (1905–1930)," October 18, 2004–January 16, 2005, no. 113.
Madrid. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. "Nueva York y el arte moderno: Alfred Stieglitz y su circulo (1905–1930)," February 10–May 16, 2005, no. 113.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Stieglitz and His Artists: Matisse to O'Keeffe," October 13, 2011–January 2, 2012, no. 121.
George Heard Hamilton. "The Alfred Stieglitz Collection." Metropolitan Museum Journal 3 (1970), p. 390, fig. 22.
Sheldon Reich. John Marin: A Stylistic Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné. Tucson, 1970, vol. 1, p. 73, fig. 39, vol. 2, p. 397, fig. 14.61.
Hilton Kramer. "Art View: A Dash of Marin at the Met." New York Times (March 1, 1981), pp. D1, D27.
Erica E. Hirshler. "The 'New New York' and the Park Row Building: American Artists View an Icon of the Modern Age." American Art Journal 21, no. 4 (Winter 1989), p. 32, fig. 6.
John Loughery. "Early Moderns: Benton, Marin, Spencer." Hudson Review 43 (Autumn 1990), p. 464.
Jessica Murphy inStieglitz and His Artists: Matisse to O'Keeffe. The Alfred Stieglitz Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Lisa Mintz Messinger. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2011, pp. 166, 268, no. 121, ill. (color).