Brooklyn Bridge

Art on Sunday #20 and Random Topic #11 (crush)

Brooklyn Bridge by Joseph Stella, The Yale University Art Gallery

Artist: Joseph Stella, American, born Italy, 1877–1946
Created 1919–20
Oil on canvas
215.3 x 194.6 cm (84 3/4 x 76 5/8 in.)
Gift of Collection Société Anonyme

Brooklyn Bridge is Joseph Stella’s best-known and most moving testimonial to the power and majesty of America’s modern industrial landscape. His fascination with the bridge began with his first sight of it shortly after his arrival in America in 1896 from his native Italy. He described it as the shrine containing all the efforts of the new civilization of America. It was not until moving to Brooklyn and actually living in the bridge’s shadow that he committed his feelings to canvas: “Many nights I stood on the bridge—and in the middle alone— lost—a defenseless prey to the surrounding swarming darkness—crushed1 by the mountainous black impenetrability of the skyscrapers—here and there lights resembling suspended falls of astral bodies or fantastic splendors of remote rites—shaken by the underground tumult of the trains in perpetual motion, like blood in the arteries—at times, ringing as alarm in a tempest, the shrill sulphurous voice of the trolley wires—now and then strange moanings of appeal from tugboats, guessed more than seen, through the infernal recesses below—I felt deeply moved, as if on the threshold of a new religion or in the presence of a new DIVINITY.” Stella returned to the subject of the bridge many times throughout his career.2


  1. This week’s Art on Sunday post was “inspired” by random topic selection “crush” which was searched in The Yale University Art Gallery.
  2. Description is from the Gallery. The Gallery provides free and open access to images of works in its collection that are believed to be in the public domain, as well as to certain other materials, including the descriptive information which accompanies those images. Gallery Terms and Conditions.


art, art on sunday, new york

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hilary Oct 16, 2016

    Hi Mike – love this art work … how brilliant to see – thanks for sharing. Coming from a bridge designer family (grandfather) and a cousin’s daughter who has become a highly regarded artist in an industrial theme … I’ll pass this on to her mother to send on to her. Cheers Hilary

    • Mike Oct 16, 2016


      Bridges can be fascinating… or simply utilitarian. The Brooklyn bridge, quite widely recognized, is one of the former.

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