Lot 22
  • 22

Ansel Adams

300,000 - 500,000 USD
362,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Ansel Adams
  • gelatin silver
mural-sized, signed with a stylus on the image, flush-mounted to heavy board, signed, titled, and dated in ink on the reverse, framed, 1941, probably printed in the 1960s or around 1970


Acquired by Grapestake Gallery, San Francisco, 1980

Acquired from the above by Andrea Gray Stillman for the Shaklee Terraces Collection, San Francisco, 1980

Acquired by the present owners from the above, 2005


Other prints of this image:

Andrea G. Stillman, Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs (Boston, 2007), p. 175

Karen E. Haas and Rebecca A. Senf, Ansel Adams in the Lane Collection (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2005, in conjunction with the exhibition), pl. 37

Ansel Adams (Morgan & Morgan, 1972), pl. 63

Ansel Adams, Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs (Boston, 2002), p. 40

John Szarkowski, Ansel Adams at 100 (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2001, in conjunction with the exhibition), pl. 96

Andrea Gray Stillman, ed., Ansel Adams: The Grand Canyon and the Southwest (Boston, 2000), frontispiece

James Alinder and John Szarkowski, Ansel Adams: Classic Images (Boston, 1985), pl. 32

Robert Doty, ed., Photography in America (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1974), pp. 130-31

Therese Mulligan and David Wooters, Photography from 1839 to Today, George Eastman House (Köln, 2000), p. 643

Martha A. Sandweiss, Masterworks of American Photography: The Amon Carter Museum Collection (Birmingham, 1982), pl. 125

Catalogue Note

This masterfully-rendered mural-sized print of Adams's best-known image is remarkable for a number of attributes.  Printed in the 1960s, or around 1970, it has an 'open' tonality, especially in the sky area, not typically associated with prints made in this era, or with Adams's mural-sized photographs in general. For all its dramatic size and impact, it is a surprisingly sensitively-rendered print.  Wispy clouds, obscured in other darker prints made in this period, are clearly visible in this print.  The foreground, too, is dominated here by mid-tones and carefully delineated detail.  This print suggests the twilight hour in which the photograph was actually taken late in the afternoon on a fall day in 1941, as opposed to the stark night-time scene portrayed in other prints of Moonrise. 

This print of Moonrise is also unusual in that it is signed by the photographer, not once but twice.  Because Adams typically flush-mounted his murals, and displayed them unmatted in a thin white frame, there was no blank space for his signature.  Typically, these large prints left his studio unsigned.  In later years, upon request, Adams would sometimes sign a mural on the image using a stylus, as he did on the print offered here.  Notably, Adams went further in this instance, and signed, titled, and dated the reverse of the mount in black ink. 

This mural was purchased from a private individual by Grapestake Gallery in San Francisco in 1980.  Grapestake's proprietors, the pioneering photography gallerists Ursula Gropper and Thomas Meyer, were no strangers to Ansel Adams or his work.  Their father, Otto Meyer, once president of Paul Masson Vineyards, was a close friend and patron of Adams, and had hired him to document the construction of the company's champagne cellars.  It was at Gropper's and Meyer's request that Adams signed this mural.   

Adams made few mural-sized prints of Moonrise.  According to Jim Alinder, Adams authority and one-time assistant to Adams, only about 12 have been located at the time of this writing.  Very few murals of any of Adams's images are signed by the photographer.  The fact that the print of Moonrise offered here is signed twice by Adams makes it especially rare.