Jeweled City

Gerald Geerlings
Jeweled City
Gerald Geerlings (Milwaukee, WI 1897-1998 New Canaan, CT)Jeweled City, 1931, Etching and aquatint on light green paper, 15 5/8 x 11 3/4 in. (39.69 x 29.85 cm), Museum purchase, The Nancy Gray Sherrill, Class of 1954, Collection Acquisition Fund 2019.1159
Gerald Geerlings was an architect, author and artist known for his urban landscape prints, which focused on architecture. Geerlings sought to create “a social document or distilled cityscape portrayal,”1 combining the observed and the imagined to capture the essence of the city. His beautifully rendered Jeweled City depicts recognizable Chicago skyscrapers, such as the Wrigley Building and the Mather Tower, as well as an elevated train crossing in the middle ground. To capture the magical effect of the twinkling Chicago skyline, Geerlings used an experimental etching technique to create a gradation effect similar to a watercolor wash, and further enhanced the evening atmosphere by printing the work on green paper. Printed in 1931, Jeweled City is considered one of his greatest works, and garnered Geerlings his first award for a print from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art.
Increasing urbanization and industrialization, along with the shadow of the Great Depression, heavily influenced artists during this period. Many turned to cities, as the new embodiment of American ideals, for inspiration rather than the natural landscape. While Geerlings’s realistic and detailed depiction of Chicago gives this work a convincing sense of time, place, and architectural integrity, the washed aquatint and his deliberate arrangement of forms reveals an underlying romanticism. Jeweled City is a brilliant new edition to the Davis’s collection of 20th century American prints.
 1Czestochowski, Joseph. Gerald K. Geerlings. 1984: Cedar Rapids Art Association, p 10.