Presumably, the Gardner Collection of Photographs, Harvard University
To the present owner, 1965-66
The present photograph presents a sweeping view of the Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point, a promontory Watkins himself is likely to have named (cf. Lot 120). The magnificent Half Dome rises in the middle distance, with Tenaya Canyon and Mount Lyell beyond.
The Half Dome, an inspiration to photographers from the 19th century to the present time, is believed to have been named the first day the Mariposa Battalion entered the Yosemite Valley in 1851. In his Yosemite Place Names (Lafayette, California, 1988), Peter Browning relates that Private Champion Spencer, Company B, is reported to have 'looked a good long while at that split mountain, and called it a "half dome"' (p. 56). Watkins took several views of Half Dome from the Valley floor in 1861. In the mid-1860s, however, he began working from above, taking the photograph offered here, as well as others.
Weston Naef and the Carleton Watkins Mammoth Plate Catalogue Raisonné Project locate 23 other prints of this image, most in institutional collections, but also including four that have appeared at auction in New York.
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