Gelatin silver print on Dassonville "Charcoal Black" paper
Image: 20.3 x 25.6 cm (8 x 10 1/16 in.); Paper: 25.4 x 32.1 cm (10 x 12 5/8 in.); Matted: 40.6 x 50.8 cm (16 x 20 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1999.106
At the start of the 20th century, the Grand Canyon was already a famous destination for tourists.
“Thou vast, profound, primeval hiding-place / Of ancient secrets,” wrote Henry Van Dyke in 1913 in his poem The Grand Canyon. Made a decade later, William E. Dassonville’s photograph conveys a similar awe at this national landmark’s grandeur, mystery, and power. In a shrewd composition that masterfully takes advantage of natural light, Dassonville emphasized the depth and breadth of the canyon by setting a white outcropping in the foreground against a dark shadow that slices the rectangular image in half diagonally. To its right, a sunbathed vista of cliffs and valleys takes our eye into deep, deep space.
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