Brooklyn Bridge Artist: Joseph Stella (American, born Italy, 1877–1946)


American Paintings and Sculpture

On view, 3rd floor, Modern and Contemporary Art and Design

Brooklyn Bridge is Joseph Stella's best-known and most moving testimonial to the power and majesty of America's modern industrial landscape. His fascination with the bridge began with his first sight of it shortly after his arrival in America in 1896 from his native Italy. He described it as the shrine containing all the efforts of the new civilization of America. It was not until moving to Brooklyn and actually living in the bridge's shadow that he committed his feelings to canvas: "Many nights I stood on the bridge—and in the middle alone— lost—a defenseless prey to the surrounding swarming darkness—crushed by the mountainous black impenetrability of the skyscrapers—here and there lights resembling suspended falls of astral bodies or fantastic splendors of remote rites—shaken by the underground tumult of the trains in perpetual motion, like blood in the arteries—at times, ringing as alarm in a tempest, the shrill sulphurous voice of the trolley wires—now and then strange moanings of appeal from tugboats, guessed more than seen, through the infernal recesses below—I felt deeply moved, as if on the threshold of a new religion or in the presence of a new DIVINITY." Stella returned to the subject of the bridge many times throughout his career.


Oil on canvas


84 3/4 × 76 5/8 in. (215.3 × 194.6 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Collection Société Anonyme

Accession Number



20th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Bourgeois Galleries, New York, by 1920; sold to Katharine Sophie Dreier (1877–1952), New York, 1920; transferred to the Société Anonyme, New York, by 1941; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1941
  • Cynthia Schwarz, "The Société Anonyme Collection and the Finer Forces of the Conservation of Modern Paintings," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2020–21), 91, 106–8, fig. 3–4
  • Sarah D. Coffin, Stephen Harrison, and Emily M. Orr, The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, exh. cat. (Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2017), 253, 363, no. 345, fig. 309
  • Sarah Kate Gillespie et al., Icon of Modernism, exh. cat. (Athens: University of Georgia, 2016), 74, fig. 1
  • Rainer Maria Rilke et al., Sunlight on the River: Poems about Paintings, Paintings about Poems, ed. Scott Gutterman (New York: Prestel-Verlag, 2015), 77, ill
  • Pamela Franks, Jessica Sack, and John Walsh, "Looking to Learn, Learning to Teach," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2013), 46, fig. 7
  • Dennis Barone, ed., New Hungers for Old: One-Hundred Years of Italian-American Poetry (Scottsdale, Ariz: Star Cloud Press, 2011), cover ill.
  • Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 401, fig. 1
  • Ruth L. Bohan et al., The Société Anonyme: Modernism for America, ed. Jennifer Gross, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2006), 17, fig. 1
  • Rachel Barnes et al., The 20th Century Art Book (London: Phaidon Press, 1996), 443, ill
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

allegories, architecture, cityscapes (representations), landscapes (representations)


Signed twice lower right "Joseph Stella" and "Jos. Stella"

Technical metadata and APIs


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