From the Catalogue:
This photograph has its origins in a 1938 assignment for Fortune magazine. Commissioned to produce a pictorial essay on American industrial power, Sheeler photographed structures throughout the United States that symbolized American innovation, achievement, and strength. Pennsylvania’s Baldwin Locomotive plant was one of the country’s chief manufacturers of coal-fired steam locomotives and was thus an ideal subject for the project.
The photograph offered here is an exemplary Sheeler image and incorporates his precise eye for detail within a sophisticated, nearly abstract, rendering of the factory’s three-dimensional space. Sheeler wrote, “Every age manifests itself by some external evidence. In a period such as ours when only a comparatively few individuals seem to be given to religion, some form other than the Gothic cathedral must be found. . . it may be true, as has been said, that our factories are our substitute for religious experience” (Charles Sheeler: The Photographs, pp. 26-27). Indeed, in the present image Sheeler has created a modern corollary to Frederick Henry Evans’s light-infused cathedral interiors.
—Courtesy of Phillips
Signature: Signed and inscribed 'To Nancy & Bob' in pencil on the mount.
Stebbins and Keyes, Charles Sheeler: The Photographs, fig. 66
From the artist to Robert and Nancy Fawcett, Ridgefield, Connecticut
Sotheby's, New York, 23 April 1994, lot 134
About Charles Sheeler
American, 1883-1965, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania