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Lower Manhattan

1934 Thomas James Delbridge Born: Atlanta, Georgia 1894 Died: New York 1968 oil on canvas 26 1/8 x 30 1/4 in. (66.3 x 76.9 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor 1964.1.51 Not currently on view


Exhibition Label

Lower Manhattan's glorious skyscrapers inspired all New Yorkers, including the city's artists, through the worst hardships of the Great Depression. Looking from the dock of a harbor island, Thomas Delbridge showed the dark mouths of Manhattan's ferry terminals; above them ever taller buildings climb out of red shadows into gold and white sunshine. The crisply outlined forms evoke such famous structures as the Woolworth Building to the left and the Singer Building to the right without placing the buildings precisely or describing specific details. The skyscraper at the center suggests the mighty Empire State Building as it had stood incomplete before its triumphant opening on May 1, 1931. Even as the stock market foundered and thousands were thrown out of work, New Yorkers had gathered in excited throngs to watch their tallest tower rise. The Manhattan skyscrapers in the painting appear to be pushing back dark clouds, creating an oasis of brilliant blue around the island.

1934: A New Deal for Artists exhibition label

Keywords

Architecture Exterior - commercial - skyscraper

Cityscape - New York New York

Cityscape - wharf

Waterscape - harbor - New York Harbor

New Deal - Public Works of Art Project - New York City

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas