Trenton Spotlight
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TRENTON MURAL

  • 319 East State Street
  • Trenton, NJ 08608
  • Artwork Creator: Everett Shinn
  • Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Access: Open to public
  • Sponsor/Project: sponsored by City of Trenton, Building Committee
  • Project Date: 1911

Oil on plaster (22’ x 45’)

“The Trenton Mural displays the artist’s most serious intentions in its depiction of a socially relevant theme. This mural of labor represented a new tendency in mural painting. It depicts sweating, muscular workers, many stripped to the waist, involved in strenuous activity. Local Trenton industries, The Roebling Steel Mill (left) and Maddock Pottery (right) are rendered on either side of the judge’s seat, with a marble slab above it separating the scenes. Most importantly, Shinn’s mural is the first instance of the use of contemporary, regional, and working class subjects in mural painting in the United States, and thus breaks with the dominant use of historical and allegorical themes . . . There is no doubt that Shinn’s Trenton Mural was the most important he created and the most significant mural produced by any member of the Eight. Yet this work was not immediately followed by other murals with similar themes by Shinn or other artists. Shinn’s mural look forward to the murals created during the Great Depression, which often feature the struggles of the worker . . . Shinn’s Trenton Mural has a unique position in American art history because it bridges the murals of the American Renaissance with those of the Great Depression.” – Thomas C. Folk, Public Art in New Jersey During the Period of the American Renaissance

“This magnificent mural represents the special industries of Trenton in the early 20th century. The left panel shows men working in the colossal steel mills. At the right, men are equally energetic in the vast pottery works. These realistic studies show the atmosphere of the factories, not from the point of view of an artist, but from the point of view of a man. In fact, Shinn spent six months living alternately between the Roebling Steel Mills and the pottery kilns of Harry Mattock at Trenton. There is not a faulty detail in the work. The machinery represented is exact, the proper workmen do their proper tasks, and what is really represented is the spirit of the places, the spirit of the work, and the human dignity of it.” – Downtown Trenton Artwalk

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