Sir Muirhead Bone HRSA (1876-1953)
A Manhattan Excavation
12 1/4 x 10 in. • 311 x 254 mm
signed in plate; signed in pencil to margin and initialled MB (indicating a proof reserved for the artist). One of 18 impressions in the 13th state of 19, 151 copies total
The Fine Art Society, London;
Kirkton House, Scotland
Muirhead Bone was a printmaker and watercolour artist noted for his depictions of architectural subjects, city views, landscapes, and his work as an artist in both the First and Second World Wars. After the First World War, Bone made fewer prints until he travelled to the United States. In this bird's-eye view, Muirhead Bone presents a meticulously detailed construction site in Midtown Manhattan. With great observational precision, he depicts workers building the Roosevelt Hotel at 45th Street and Madison Avenue, one of the many massive construction projects underway during the economic boom of the 1920s.
Using the intaglio technique of drypoint, Bone contrasts the immense size and dramatic complexity of the excavation pit with the tiny figures of the construction workers. At the top of the image, Bone captures a bustling street intersection filled with cars and pedestrians. He spent five years completing this print, which went through 19 states before it was finally issued as an edition in 1928; it is now regarded as one of the artist's most celebrated drypoints.