Sep 2, 2004

The Domes, from the Sentinel Domes, Yosemite

The Domes, from the Sentinel Domes, Yosemite

c. 1865–1866

Carleton E. Watkins

(American, 1829–1916)

Mammoth albumen print from wet collodion negative

Image: 39.6 x 52.4 cm (15 9/16 x 20 5/8 in.); Mounted: 53.2 x 68.1 cm (20 15/16 x 26 13/16 in.); Matted: 71.1 x 81.3 cm (28 x 32 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 2002.44



Although prolific in all types of commercial photography, Carleton Watkins was best known for his majestic images of Yosemite Valley. He first transported his mammoth-plate camera there in 1861 and returned many times to record America's natural treasure. Besides establishing aesthetic and technical standards of excellence for landscape photography, Watkins's work was instrumental in passing the 1864 Congressional bill enacted to protect Yosemite from development. In this panoramic view, he displayed elegantly curved rock formations in the foreground. The photograph was structured in overlapping planes, which effectively depicted the seemingly limitless gradations and undulations in the landscape. His skillful suggestion of atmospheric perspective made the mountains and trees appear less clearly visible in the background, enhancing the sense of a vast, pristine landscape.

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