CURTIS, Robert Emerson. Building the Bridge. Sydney, Simmons, 1933.
Folio. Original cloth-backed illustrated boards, pp. , 12 full-page lithographs and one tipped-in colour lithograph; lower outer corner of front cover with wear; otherwise very good.
First edition, number 88 of a print-run of 400, signed by the artist. This beautiful publication celebrates the completion of Sydney Harbour Bridge. J.J.C. Bradfield writes in the foreword 'The Sydney Harbour Bridge, so long a dream, is to-day a bold and practical reality. A triumphant arch of steel, humanising our landscape in the Ideals of all true Australians, simplicity, beauty and service. It was a Big Plan ; the thoughts and strivings of many men. Its success lies in the loyalty of Engineers and Workmen to the Ideal of the Big Plan. Inch by inch, step by step, they built the Bridge, until to-day it is finished, a work of service, a thing of beauty, which will assert itself long after we are gone. In the following drawings, Mr. Curtis tells you something of the magnitude of the work that lay before the Builders. When an important stage in the construction had been reached, when the subject was "meat" for his pencil, whether by accident or design, he would invariably be seen, somewhere, "on the job." In these drawings are expressed the strength, the labour, the romance of a great undertaking' (p. 4).
'Robert Emerson Curtis (1898–1986), artist, arrived in Sydney from England in his mid-teens. Having studied art by correspondence, he went to the USA with his friend, cinematographer Charles Chauvel, in 1922 and spent six years in San Francisco and Chicago, studying, creating etchings and woodcuts and illustrating various magazines. Surprised on his return to Sydney to find that an arch bridge was under way, he approached engineer John Bradfield and requested access to the Sydney Harbour Bridge site. Over the ensuing years he created a series of lithographs documenting the construction. Some of these were published as Building the Bridge in 1933' (National Portrait Gallery, Australia, online).