Carleton Watkins (U.S.A., 1829–1916), revered as one of the greatest landscape photographers of the 19th century, is perhaps best known for his mammoth prints from glass plate negatives of California’s legendary Yosemite Valley. Unprecedented in their size and detail, these photographs were instrumental in convincing the 38th U.S. Congress and President Abraham Lincoln to pass the Yosemite Act of 1864, the first official step toward preserving the Sierra Nevada valley for public use and a blueprint for America’s National Park System.
To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Yosemite Act, the Cantor is mounting a major exhibition of Watkins’s photographic album of Yosemite Valley and two other large albums: photographs of the Pacific Coast and of the Columbia River and Oregon. The albums photographs, preserved in pristine condition in Stanford Library’s Special Collections and Archives, represents one of the most definitive collections anywhere of Watkins's highest achievements between 1861 and 1872, the complete range of his first and most astonishing creative streak. No other institution retains all three of these integral volumes. This exhibition of the Stanford albums provides an extraordinary, cohesive view of Watkins’s work as he intended it to be viewed, and presents a remarkable vision of America’s Pacific Coast in the era of its great expansion, captured with calm even during the menace of the nation’s Civil War.
A printed catalogue accompanying the exhibition will feature for the first time all of the images from the three complete albums and will present essays by scholars in diverse fields affiliated with Stanford.
Open Wed-Sun 11am - 5pm, Thursdays until 8pm; admission is free. CLOSED MONDAY AND TUESDAY.