The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of February 23, 2018

Church Street El, 1920

oil on canvas, Framed: 60 x 67.5 x 6 cm (23 9/16 x 26 9/16 x 2 5/16 in.); Unframed: 41 x 48.5 cm (16 1/8 x 19 1/16 in.). Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1977.43

Capturing the soaring heights of New York City, this painting is a dramatic bird's eye view of Broadway and Wall Street, showing a conglomeration of buildings at left and center, and the Church Street elevated train at right. Sheeler based his composition on an image from the short movie Manhatta (1920), which he made with the photographer Paul Strand. One of the first avant-garde American films, Manhatta celebrates the dynamic metropolis through a series of carefully composed shots of Lower Manhattan.
As typical with Sheeler's work, the artist simplified forms and eliminated textures in Church Street El to concentrate on rhythmic interplays of shapes and color, as well as patterns of light and shadow.

Signed lower right: "Sheeler 1920"

New York, Whitney Studio Galleries, Exhibition of Selected Works by Charles Sheeler (1 March-31 March 1924).
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Museum of Art, The Collection of Earl Horter (17 February-13 March 1934).
Chicago, The Arts Club of Chicago, Modern Paintings from the Collection of Mr. Earl Horter of Philadelphia, (3 April-26 April 1934); no. 57
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Charles Sheeler: Paintings, Drawings, Photographs, (1939), no. 11, listed p. 46.
Washington, D.C., National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Charles Sheeler, (10 October-24 November,1968); traveled to Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art (10 January-16 February 1969); New York, Whitney Museum of American Art (11 March-27 April 1969); no. 24, illus. p. 39, mentioned briefly in essays by both Martin Friedman ("The Art of Charles Sheeler: Americana in a Vacuum") p. 40, and Bartlett Hayes ("Reminiscence") p. 70.
Berlin, Academy of Fine Arts, America: Traum und Depression 1920-1940, (1980), pp. 109-137, illus. p. 89, pl. 8, cat. no. 292.
San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Images of America: Precisionist Painting and Modern Photography, (9 September-7 November 1982); traveled to Saint Louis, The Saint Louis Art Museum (6 December 1982-30 January 1983); Baltimore, The Baltimore Museum of Art (28 February-25 April 1983); Des Moines, Des Moines Art Center (23 May-17 July 1983); Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art (15 August-9 October 1983), no. 92, plate 18 (also reproduced on cover), included essay by Karen Tsujimoto entitled "Charles Sheeler: Precisionist Painter and Modern Photographer," (pp. 73-85, 172-173) which discusses the CMA painting.
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Charles Sheeler: Paintings and Drawings, (13 October 1987- 3 January 1988); traveled to New York, Whitney Museum of American Art (28 January-17 April 1988); Dallas, Dallas Museum of Art (15 May-10 July 1988), no. 16, p. 80, also included parts from essay by Carol Troyen and Erica E. Hirshler, "From the Eyes Inward: Paintings and Drawings by Charles Sheeler," (pp. 9-11, 36-37), which point out the fact that the CMA painting was derived from Manhatta.
Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art, The Precisionist Aesthetic in American Art (24 January-9 April 1989)
Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Mad for Modernism: Earl Horter and His Collection, (7 March-16 May 1999), plate 78, p. 122, also included two footnotes concerning Sheeler and his relationship to Horter (p. 61), and pp. 173, 180-181, 184.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, The American Century: Art & Culture 1900-1950 (23 April-22 August 1999), cat. no. 273, illus. p. 148.
Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Der k├╝hle Blick: Realismus der Zwanzigerjahre in Europa und Amerika (1 June-2 September 2001), illus. p. 311.
National Gallery of Art (5/7/2006-9/4/2006), Art Institute of Chicago (10/15/2006-1/7/2007), Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, MH de Young Museum (2/10/2007-5/6/2007): "Charles Sheeler: Mediums and Messages"
Brooklyn Museum of Art (10/28/2011 - 1/22/2012), Dallas Museum of Art (2/24/2012 - 5/27/2012), and Cleveland Museum of Art (7/1/2012 - 9/16/2012): "Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties", Fig. 105, p. 143.

By 1930-probably 1940 Earl Horter [1880-1940], Philadelphia, PA1
Probably 1940-at least 1969 Elizabeth Lentz Horter [1900-1985], South Langhorne, PA
Array (Harold Diamond, New York, NY)2
-1977 (Robert Schoelkopf Gallery, New York, NY, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art)
1977- The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio


1Horter's ownership of this painting by 1934 is confirmed by an exhibition of his collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in that year.

2According to Andy Schoelkopf, Harold Diamond acquired the painting from Mrs. Horter, but because Diamond had little experience in selling Sheeler's works, he consigned the painting to Robert Schoelkopf to sell. Diamond most likely never owned the painting. Schoelkopf sold the painting rather quickly after a visit from Sherman Lee, who happened to see the painting soon after it was received from Diamond.


Andy Schoelkopf, telephone conversation with Victoria Sears Goldman, April 16, 2013.

Robert Schoelkopf Gallery, expect notice, April 27, 1977, in CMA curatorial file.

Shoemaker, Innis H., Christa Clarke, and William S. Wierzbowski. Mad for Modernism: Earl Horter and His Collection. 1999.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Library materials about Charles Sheeler (24)

Detail Views