Classic Photographs

Classic Photographs

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 137. 'Pompomasos, Three Brothers, 4480 ft., Yo Semite'.

Carleton E. Watkins

'Pompomasos, Three Brothers, 4480 ft., Yo Semite'

Lot Closed

October 5, 04:20 PM GMT


25,000 - 35,000 USD

Lot Details


Carleton E. Watkins

1829 - 1916

'Pompomasos, Three Brothers, 4480 ft., Yo Semite'

arch-topped mammoth-plate albumen print, mounted, signed 'C.E. Watkins' in ink and titled in pencil on the mount, framed, a Fraenkel Gallery label on the reverse, 1861

image: 15 ¾ by 20 ¾ in. (40 by 52.7 cm.)

frame: 26 ⅞ by 30 ⅞ in. (68.3 by 78.4 cm.)

Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
Peter E. Palmquist, Carleton E. Watkins: Photographs 1861–1874 (San Francisco, Fraenkel Gallery, 1989), no. 17 (this print)

Weston Naef and Christine Hult-Lewis, Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011), cat. no. 168

Tyler Green, Carleton Watkins: Making the West American (Oakland, 2018), p. 112

In the July 1863 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, cultural critic and amateur photographer Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote of Watkins' photographs of Yosemite: 'As specimens of art they are admirable, and some of the subjects are among the  most interesting to be found in the whole realm of Nature. . . the mighty precipice of El Capitan, more than three thousand feet in precipitous height, - the three conical hill-tops of Yo Semite [The Three Brothers], taken not as they soar into the atmosphere, but as they are reflected into the calm waters below - these and others are shown clear, yet soft, vigorous in the foreground, delicately distinct in the distance, in a perfection of art which compares with the finest European work.' (quoted in Tyler Green, pp. 111-12).  

Prints of this image are in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2005.100.1275); the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (85.XM.361.23); George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester (1981.2899.0015); and Santa Barbara Museum of Art.