View full screen - View 1 of Lot 1029. Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.

Ansel Adams

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico

Property Sold To Benefit The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Of New Mexico

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico

Authenticity guarantee

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Property Sold To Benefit The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Of New Mexico

Ansel Adams

1902 - 1984

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico

signed Ansel Adams (on the mount); signed Ansel Adams, titled Hernandez, New Mexico, Moonrise, and dated 1941 [partially crossed out and amended 1942] (on the reverse)

gelatin silver print, mounted

6 ⅝ by 9 ⅜ in. 

16.7 by 23.8 cm.

Executed in 1941 and probably printed in the early 1940s.

Please note the colors and shades in the online catalogue illustration may vary depending on screen settings.

This brilliant early gelatin silver print, with a surface sheen and mounted to stiff card, demonstrates remarkable detail throughout. In the sky area, delicate wispy clouds are visible, notably in the upper left and right portion of the image; these gauzelike swaths are not apparent in prints made even just a few years later. The overall effect of this print suggests a twilight scene, as opposed to the high contrast, night-time scene of later prints.

As is typical of Adams’ early prints from this period, it is signed by the photographer in pencil on the mount, as well as signed, titled, and dated in ink on the reverse. Upon very close examination in strong, direct lighting, scattered minuscule dust and lint are visible. These appear to be features in the negative or of the printing process. The two small thread-like lines near the right edge, for instance, are visual hallmarks in the other known early prints of the image. Although the aforementioned bears mentioning in a discussion of early prints, it is only apparent upon magnification of the image. 


This photograph is nearly pristine. There is a barely discernible 1½-inch scratch in the rightmost portion of the clouds that does not appear to break the emulsion. Three minute chips to the emulsion are visible upon close inspection at the upper right edge. The emulsion is peeled back at the tip of the lower right corner.

The mount is insignificantly sunned in a one-inch band at the periphery of the image and faintly age-darkened at the extreme edges. There are circular paper adhesions at each corner, likely from a previous overmat.

The reverse of the mount has insignificant soiling.

There is a Museum of Fine Arts New Mexico label on the reverse of the mat.

When examined under ultraviolet light, this print does not appear to fluoresce.

Framed under Plexi: 16 ¼ by 20 ¼ in. (41.3 by 51.4 cm.)

The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

Helene Wurlitzer, Taos (acquired directly from the artist)

Acquired by bequest from the above circa 1963 by the present owner

Liliane de Cock Morgan, ed., Ansel Adams (Hastings-on-Hudson, 1972), pl. 63

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

Ansel Adams and Lawrence Clark Powell, Photographs of the Southwest (Boston, 1976), pl. 55

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

James Alinder, Ansel Adams 1902-1984 (Carmel, CA: The Friends of Photography, 1984), p. 55

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

Mary Street Alinder and Andrea Gray Stillman, Ansel Adams: Letters and Images 1916-1984 (Boston, 1988), p. 142

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

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

Barbara Buhler Lynes, Sandra S. Phillips, and Richard B. Woodward, Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities (Boston, 2008), fig. 3 and p. 109

Andrea Gray Stillman, Looking at Ansel Adams (Boston, 2012), p. 119

Karen E. Haas, An Enduring Vision: Photographs from the Lane Collection (Boston, 2011), pl. 8

Quentin Bajac et al., eds., Photography at MoMA: 1920 to 1960 (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2016), p. 49, pl. 32

Rebecca Senf, Making a Photographer: The Early Work of Ansel Adams (New Haven, 2020), fig. 6.15 

This brilliant rendering of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico exhibits the subtlety of tone, high level of detail, and open foreground that characterize Adams’ best prints of the image from the 1940s. In the sky area, delicate wispy clouds are visible, notably in the upper left and right portion of the image; these gauzelike swaths are not apparent in prints made even just a few years later. The overall effect of this print suggests a twilight scene, as opposed to the high contrast, night-time scene of the far more common later prints.

This photograph comes from the collection of The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. The name Helene Wurlitzer (1874-1963) is synonymous today with the close-knit artist community in Taos, New Mexico. Having spent her early life in Freiburg, Germany, and Cincinnati, Ohio, Helene journeyed to Taos for the first time in 1940 and was instantly drawn in by the area. She immediately purchased land with the intention of building a home, and by 1942 had taken up part-time residence. Her home, designed and built by local Taos architect Arturo V. Martínez y Salazar, hosted the likes of Earl Stroh, Andrew Dasburg, Rebecca Salsbury James, Emil Bisttram, and Thomas Benrimo, among many others. Helene quietly - and often anonymously - offered financial support to a multitude of artists and began collecting their work. One such recipient of Helene’s generosity was Ansel Adams, who photographed Taos and the surrounding historical landscape several times beginning in the 1920s. Ten photographs by Adams were acquired by Helene, including 9 rare views of Taos as well as the brilliant example of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico offered here. The scale, photographic paper, and presentation of these photographs are consistent, suggesting they were made by Adams at the same time. These rare early prints have been in the Helene Wurlitzer Collection for nearly three quarters of a century.

Adams printed Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, infrequently in the early 1940s. The negative, made quickly and under trying conditions late in the afternoon on 1 November 1941, proved difficult to print. To produce a print that effectively reflected Adams’ visualization of the scene, he had to expend a great deal of time and energy in the darkroom coaxing the image through the printing process. In December 1948, Adams undertook the task of reprocessing the negative, re-fixing and washing it, and submerging it up to the horizon line in Kodak IN-5 intensifier. His efforts increased the density in the foreground, thus making it easier to print. The photograph from the Helene Wurlitzer Collection is one of the exceptionally few prints that Adams made in the early 1940s before the negative was intensified.