James Alinder and John Szarkowski, Ansel Adams: Classic Images (Boston, 1985), pl. 32
Andrea G. Stillman, ed., Ansel Adams: The Grand Canyon and the Southwest (Boston, 2000), frontispiece
John Szarkowski, Ansel Adams at 100 (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2001), pl. 96
Ansel Adams, Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs (Boston, 2002), p. 40
Karen E. Haas and Rebecca A. Senf, Ansel Adams in the Lane Collection (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2005), pl. 37
Andrea G. Stillman, Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs (Boston, 2007), p. 175
This print of Adams’s best-known image was acquired directly from the photographer in 1969, after the present owner saw Moonrise on exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. When Adams prepared to print the photograph offered here, he wrote to its buyer, ‘I shall be pleased to make up this print at the earliest opportubity [sic]. I cannot guarantee it will be “exactly” identical to the one you saw in the Museum, but it will be equally good— if not better!’ Indeed, this particular rendering has a wide range of tones, especially in the sky area, not typically associated with prints made in this era. Wispy clouds, obscured in other darker prints made in this period, are clearly visible in this print. This photograph has remained in the same collection for over four decades.
Adams made the 8-by-10-inch negative for Moonrise in the late afternoon of 1 November 1941, while photographing in the Southwest on behalf of the U. S. Department of the Interior and the U. S. Potash Company of New Mexico. Driving back to his motel after an unproductive day of photographing, Adams passed the tiny town of Hernandez. Struck by the quality of light upon the town and its attendant cemetery, he immediately pulled the car over to the side of the road and hastily assembled his equipment. Adams was able to make just one exposure before the sun sank behind a bank of clouds, and the light changed completely.
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