Rare mammoth plate albumen photograph inscribed in pencil on the reverse by Watkins "Up Yosemite Valley from Mariposa Trail #27" . The image has warm deep tones and is a very crisp image. It provides a wonderful panoramic view of the Yosemite Valley taken in 1865 - 66. This view was made from a position near present day Artist Point, close to the view represented in the first published of the first published picture to show Yosemite Valley from the the mariposa Trail , an engraving in "Hutchings' Illustrated California Magazine, July1856 p. 2.
Exhibitions: 1869 Mechanics Institute Fair, San Francisco; 1870 Cleveland Expostion.
Condition of photograph: The photograph has warm rich tones and is in excellent condition given its age. The original mount has some typical toning and there are some losses to the corners on the right side of the mount.
Condition of frame: The photograph is archivally mounted in a contemporary black wood frame with "UV" plexiglass.
Dimensions: Height 16, Width 20 1/2 inches.
Provenance: A New England Estate.
Reference: Naef, Weston and Lewis-Hult, Christine, Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs, (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011): Cat. No. 121, p. 60. A slioghjly larger example from the same negative is illustrated on this page.
Note: Carleton Watkins first photographed the Yosemite Valley in 1861, producing mammuth-plate negatives (18 x 22 in.) of the awe-inspiring natural landscape. These images ultimately made their way to the East Coast, where they are said to have been shown to Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Lincoln was so moved by the images that he proclaimed that the Yosemite Valley forever remain in the public domain, thereby establishing the precursor to today's Yosemite National Park. In the summers of 1865-6, Watkins returned to the Yosemite Valley, creating numerous striking mammuth-plate photographs as he recorded the now-iconic vistas. These views were faithfully re-photographed by Ansel Adams half a century later. Unfortunately, for much of the twentieth century, Watkins was a forgotten name in the history of American photography, and it was not until the late 1970s that academics and collectors alike began to rediscover his work. The intervening century had not been kind to Watkins, by the mid-1870s, Watkins was in financial ruin and had ceded control of his negatives to a creditor, and in 1906 the bulk of his work was destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake and fire. Over the years, many universities and public libraries deaccessioned their collection of Watkins' mammuth plate prints. Thus, today, very few examples of Watkins' Yosemite photographs survive, and this photograph which came from a newly discovered collection of twenty works - works that represent some of his most recognizable Yosemite views - is a truly remarkable addition to Watkins' oeuvre.