In 1920 John Marin bought a seven-room house in Cliffside Park, a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, within easy commuting distance of New York City. Alternating with the summer views he produced annually in Maine, Marin painted winter views of his residential neighborhood covered in snow. Buildings with Snowbank, Cliffside, New Jersey, depicts the garage behind Marin’s house and parts of other adjacent properties. The Dutch-style roof and three windows rising directly above the garage also appear, from the elevated vantage point of Marin’s studio, in
In 1920 John Marin and his wife, Marie, bought a seven-room house at 243 Clark Terrace
“Noted Artist Abhors All ‘Isms’ Except Real ‘ism’ in Art,” Palisadian, Dec. 11, 1947, quoted in Ruth Fine, John Marin (Washington, DC, 1990), 110.
Trained as an architect early in his career, Marin was adept at rendering urban cityscapes such as New York. In the Gallery’s Buildings with Snowbank, Cliffside, New Jersey and
Sheldon Reich, John Marin: Part I, A Stylistic Analysis; Part II, Catalogue Raisonné, 2 vols. (Tucson, AZ, 1970), 1:192.
An inscription by the artist’s son, John Marin Jr., identifies the subject of Buildings with Snowbank as the garage behind the artist’s home. Part of the Marin house is visible at the far left, recognizable by the rusticated stone at the base of its wall. Recently shoveled snow is piled up against the sides of the buildings. The point of view—looking toward the garage from Marin’s driveway—emphasizes the buildings’ abstract geometric forms. The Dutch-style roof with three windows rising directly above the garage also appears, from the elevated vantage point of Marin’s studio, in House with Dutch Roof. Although the composition is not as geometrically rigorous as Buildings with Snowbank and Marin’s interpretation of the subject is considerably more spontaneous and expressive in House with Dutch Roof, especially in his treatment of the rutted snow along the roof in the foreground and the background details, the two works were likely executed at the same time.
The truncated forms and partial vistas found in Marin’s works of the late 1920s drew upon the lessons of cubism he had learned from the displays of works by
Ruth Fine, in her discussion of two additional oil paintings of Cliffside from 1929—From My Window, Cliffside, New Jersey
Ruth Fine, John Marin (Washington, DC, 1990), 111.
August 17, 2018
lower right: Marin 28; across upper center reverse, by the artist's son: (Farm Buildings)-1928-incorrectly identified-Marin garage-part of Marin house & neighboring homes, Cliffside, N.J. / 9 x 11 SR#140[the "140" crossed out] SR28.16; upper right reverse: NBM 2/21/84
The artist [1870-1953]; his estate; by inheritance to his son, John C. Marin, Jr. [1914-1988], Cape Split, Maine; gift 1986 to NGA.
Associated NamesMarin, Jr., John C.
The painting was executed on a commercially prepared artist canvas board that was glued to a secondary support of low quality pulp cardboard. The canvas board was prepared with a commercially applied, thin, grayish, off-white ground. Examination of the painting with infrared reflectography shows a free-form outlining of the major design elements in the painting with what appears to be a charcoal medium.
The infrared examination was conducted using a Santa Barbara Focalplane InSb camera fitted with a K astronomy filter.
- Reich, Sheldon. John Marin: A Stylistic Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné. Tucson, 1970: no. 28.16 (as Farm Buildings).
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 231, repro.