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Charles Bierstadt

The Rapids, Below the Suspension Bridge
about 1870
albumen print
sheet and image: 7 x 9 1/4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase from the Charles Isaacs Collection made possible in part by the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment

Charles Bierstadt, brother of the famous painter Albert Bierstadt, was downstream from the falls when he photographed John Augustus Roebling’s elegant two-level suspension bridge. Its geometric, rational organization is strikingly unlike the chaotic, blurred flow of water below. Three negatives may have been used to make this image—one for the bridge, one for the raging river, and one of the clouds and sky.