Juan Laurent (French, active Spain, 1816?1892)
Albumen silver print from glass negative; 13 3/8 x 9 3/4 in. (33.9 x 24.8 cm)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, by exchange, 1999 (1999.138)
Beginning in the late 1850s, Laurent worked for the Spanish photographic agency Gerónimo. During thirty-five years of operation in Madrid, the firm produced some 20,000 photographsa vast archive of Spanish art, architecture, and industrial achievement.
This photograph, originally part of an album that documented the Zaragoza-Pamplona-Barcelona railway line, depicts a bridge spanning the dry bed of the Gállego River at Zuera, a desolate locale situated north of Zaragoza. Tight framing and dramatic foreshortening result in an image as geometrically conceived as the impressive technology that is represented. A tiny human presence, positioned at the far end of the bridge, emphasizes the imposing span and scale of this modern engineering feat.