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John Marin. 1870-1953.

Downtown, the El. 1921. Etching. Zigrosser 134. 6 3/4 x 8 3/4 (sheet 11 x 14 1/8). Series: Six American Etchings: The New Republic Portfolio, 1924. Edition approximately 500 printed between 1924-25 by Peter Platt on Van Gelder paper. A rich, tonal impression with plate tone printed on the full sheet of cream wove paper. Signed in pencil, lower left.

Marin's Brooklyn Bridge print was planned for inclusion in the set, but after a few were printed, it was replaced by Marin's Downtown the El. (The original cover specified the Brooklyn Bridge, but in this and some subsequent covers, the title was crossed out in ink and replaced by the words "Lower Manhattan."

Zigrosser, Marin's cataloguer, suggested that perhaps the plate had broken. This is unlikely since the printer, Peter Platt (1859-1934), was America's most distinguished artists' printer of the period, worked alone, and it was unlikely that he would have broken a copperplate. A more likely explanation is that Downtown the El is about the same size as the other prints in the set, whereas the Brooklyn Bridge etching is much larger; a plate of the same size would facilitate the printing of a large issue. Each of the plates was purchased by The New Republic, but they appear to have been lost or destroyed.

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Downtown, The El expresses the energy of the city through bold diagonal lines that cut across the composition. Marin said: “I see great forces at work – great movements – the large buildings and the small buildings – the warring of the great and the small -- influences of one mass on another. he said. His images express this interaction of elements, forces, and movement within the city.

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Six American Etchings.

American Fine Prints.

Allinson Gallery Index.

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