Artist: Juan Laurent (French, 1816–1892, active Spain, 1857–1880s)
Artist: José Martinez Sánchez (Spanish, 1808–1874)
Date: ca. 1867
Medium: Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions: 33.9 x 24.8 cm (13 3/8 x 9 3/4 in.)
Credit Line: Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, by exchange, 1999
Accession Number: 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 photographs-a 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.