Historic Spanish Record of the Conquest. South Side of Inscription Rock, New Mexico, No. 3
Timothy H. O'Sullivan (American, born Ireland, 1840–1882)
Albumen silver print from glass negative
20.1 x 27.6 cm. (7 15/16 x 10 7/8 in.)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1988
Not on view
Timothy O’Sullivan began his career as an apprentice in Mathew Brady’s New York studio, and then worked for the duration of the Civil War with Alexander Gardner’s corps of photographers. In the following decade, O’Sullivan participated in a number of governmental surveys of the American West, charting vast, rugged expanses of land in search of natural resources and areas for future settlement. O’Sullivan often includes details of the surveyors’ trade in his photographs, such as his wagon, tent, or the ruler placed here under the 17th century graffiti of Spanish explorers. In this way, his images link the primordial to the present, the natural to the civilized, the explored to the explorers. While many a surveyor has included a measuring stick in their pictures, O’Sullivan’s ruler is so blatant an intrusion that it asks to read not only as a provider of scale, but a metaphor for his century’s scientific positivism.
Inscription: Inscribed in the negative: "9" & '[illeg.]t (trimmed from print); Printed on mount, recto, in letterpress: "WAR DEPARTMENT, CORPS [insignia] OF ENGINEERS, U.S. ARMY// Geographic Explorations and Surveys West of the 100th Meridian// Expedition of 1873 Under the Command of Lieut. Geo. M. Wheeler, Corps of Engrs.// T.H. O'Sullivan, Phot.// No. 13// HISTORIC SPANISH RECORD OF THE CONQUEST// South Side of Inscription Rock, New Mexico, No. 3"; stamped on mount, verso LL, upside down: "DUPLICATE"; LR, sideways: "SURPLUS//DUPLICATE//LIBRARY//OF//CONGRESS" [twice]; C, sideways: "L.C.// ...OF PRINTS"[in circular design]; inscribed in pencil in modern hand on mount, verso, LL: "TOS 1734"; C, sideways: "46987"