close-up of side of engine, focusing on the two large wheels and all the attached mechanisms, steam visible at lower front right, transportation
Rolling Power is a depiction of a section of the running gear of a Hudson locomotive, which was designed to haul New York Central passenger cars at speeds above 100 miles per hour. In 1939 it was the most efficient and powerful railroad engine available. Sheeler painted it in pristine condition, celebrating its power in the crisp, hard outlines of the Precisionist style with which much of his work is associated. Sheeler painted Rolling Power as part of a series commissioned by Fortune magazine on industrial power in the United States. Because it took him three months to complete the painting, during which, as he said, he could not "camp beside" his subject, Sheeler photographed the engine to aid him in rendering its intricate details. One of these photographs, known as Drive Wheels, is also in the museum's collection.