Art/ Collection/ Art Object

View on the Columbia, Cascades

Artist:
Carleton E. Watkins (American, 1829–1916)
Date:
1867
Medium:
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions:
40.0 x 52.4 cm (15 3/4 x 20 5/8 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Warner Communications Inc. Purchase Fund and Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1979
Accession Number:
1979.622
Not on view
Beginning in the 1850s, photographers found a way to achieve the clarity of daguerreotypes without giving up the reproducibility inherent in William Henry Fox Talbot's negative/positive photographic process: they replaced the paper negative with glass, which they coated with a thin layer of wet photosensitive collodion (guncotton dissolved in ether). For large-format landscape work such as Watkins produced along the Columbia River in Oregon, the physical demands of this process were great. Since there was as yet no practical means of enlarging, Watkins's glass negatives had to be as large as he wished the prints to be, and his camera large enough to accommodate them. Furthermore, the glass negatives had to be coated, exposed, and developed while the collodion remained tacky, requiring the photographer to transport a traveling darkroom as he explored the virgin terrain of the American West. The crystalline clarity and classic probity of Watkins's remarkable "mammoth" prints attest to his virtuosic mastery of the process and his consummate artistry.
[The Weston Gallery, Carmel, California]

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "American Photographs from the Permanent Collection," June 1, 1980–August 1, 1980.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photographs," February 26, 1982–May 1, 1982.

Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. "Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photographs," May 20, 1982–July 2, 1982.

Dallas Museum of Art. "Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photographs," August 4, 1982–September 13, 1982.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. "Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photographs," November 19, 1982–January 9, 1983.

Corcoran Gallery of Art. "Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photographs," February 22, 1983–April 18, 1983.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 1," December 4, 1992–May 4, 1993.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 12," March 11, 1996–June 3, 1996.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. "Carleton Watkins: The Art of Perception," May 28, 1999–September 7, 1999.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Carleton Watkins: The Art of Perception," October 5, 1999–January 9, 2000.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "Carleton Watkins: The Art of Perception," February 6, 2000–April 30, 2000.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Old Faces and Places: American Photographs, 1845-1870," February 3, 2004–April 25, 2004.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Framing a Century: Master Photographers, 1840–1940," June 3, 2008–September 1, 2008.

Watkins, Carleton E. Photographs of the Columbia River and Oregon, edited by James Alinder. Carmel, Calif.: Friends of Photography, Carmel, 1980. no. 35.



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