Other prints of this image:
Andrea G. Stillman, Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs (Boston, 2007), p. 233
Ansel Adams (Morgan & Morgan, 1972), pl. 47
James Alinder and John Szarkowski, Ansel Adams: Classic Images (Boston, 1985), p. 54
Ansel Adams, Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs (Boston, 2002), p. 74
John Szarkowski, Ansel Adams at 100 (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2001, in conjunction with the exhibition), pl. 110
John Szarkowski, The Portfolios of Ansel Adams (Boston, 1977), p. 5
Mount McKinley and Wonder Lake, Denali National Park, was made during the photographer's July 1947 trip to Alaska. With funds from a Guggenheim Fellowship, Adams renewed his dedication to photographing the national parks, beginning with Glacier Bay and Mount McKinley. That same year, Barbara and Bradford Washburn successfully ascended McKinley and became the first woman to reach the summit and the first man to reach it twice. At an elevation of over 20,000 feet above sea level, Mount McKinley is both the highest mountain peak in North America and the third highest peak in the world. Heavy clouds drape the mountain during the summer months, and in Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs, Adams discusses at length the difficulties he encountered in properly photographing the mountain.
In his autobiography, Adams nevertheless relates his successful experience of capturing the mountain's majestic presence: '. . . the clouds lifted and the mountain glowed an incredible shade of pink. Laid out in front of Mount McKinley, Wonder Lake was pearlescent against the dark embracing arms of the shoreline. I made what I visualized as an inevitable image. The scale of this great mountain is hard to believe – the camera and I were thirty miles from McKinley's base' (Ansel Adams: An Autobiography, p. 285).
Adams's first foray into making mural-sized photographs came in 1935, when he was asked by his employer at the time, the Yosemite Park & Curry Company, to undertake a series of murals of Yosemite for the San Diego Exposition of that year. The YP&CC advanced Adams the money to expand his San Francisco darkroom, and in the following years, Adams became an accomplished photo-muralist, making murals and large-format photo-screens for a variety of clients, well into the 1960s. He became an articulate spokesman for the form, writing articles such as 'Photo-Murals' for U. S. Camera magazine in November 1940, and including discussions of mural theory and practice in books such as his own The Print: Contact Printing and Enlarging of 1968. 'I was fascinated with the challenge of making a photographic print in grand scale,' Adams wrote in his autobiography. 'Many of my large-format Yosemite negatives took on a new resonance in mural-sized proportions' (Ansel Adams: An Autobiography, p. 187).
Mural-sized prints of Mount McKinley and Wonder Lake are rare. At the time of this writing, it is believed that no other mural-sized print of this image has been offered at auction.
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