It was through Alfred Stieglitz that collector Duncan Phillips became acquainted with the work of John Marin. Phillips gave Marin his first solo museum exhibition in 1929 at his museum and acquired a representative “unit” of the artist’s work that includes images from various eras in his artistic development.
Over the years Phillips wrote copiously about Marin. He admired his calligraphic line, luminous color, and ability to hint at the fleeting essence of the subject, and believed that he was one of America's finest modernists. In Phillips's estimate, Marin was both an impressionist and expressionist, because he could capture a moment and location as well as his subjective response to it. For Phillips, Marin’s abbreviated impressions of nature conveyed "glimpses of cosmic truth" and became "universal nature poetry." Marin experimented "on the frontiers of visual consciousness," Phillips wrote, making masterful use of space, light, and the dynamics of color. His works "required from the beholder an intuition...and an apprehension of the elemental which transcends school and dogma."