Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs

Overview

The extraordinary body of work produced by photographer Carleton Watkins (1829-1916) between 1858 and 1891 constitutes one of the longest and most productive careers in nineteenth-century American photography. Nearly thirteen hundred “mammoth” (18 x 22 inch) glass-plate negatives were produced, the majority of which exist in only one surviving print. Of these, fewer than three hundred have been previously reproduced or exhibited.  

Drawing on the major collections of ...

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Overview

The extraordinary body of work produced by photographer Carleton Watkins (1829-1916) between 1858 and 1891 constitutes one of the longest and most productive careers in nineteenth-century American photography. Nearly thirteen hundred “mammoth” (18 x 22 inch) glass-plate negatives were produced, the majority of which exist in only one surviving print. Of these, fewer than three hundred have been previously reproduced or exhibited.  

Drawing on the major collections of Watkins prints at the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and numerous smaller collections, the authors have assembled and catalogued all of Watkins’s known mammoth-plate photographs. These include views of Yosemite, San Francisco, and the Pacific Coast, as well as railroads, mines, and lumber mills throughout the west. The work will contribute not only to a fuller understanding of this pioneering photographer but also portray the barely explored frontier in its final moments of pristine beauty. The catalogue is organized by region and includes an inventory of Watkins’s negatives and an illustrated guide to his signatures, both of value to scholars, collectors, and dealers. 

 

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This massive catalogue raisonné presents with meticulous scholarship nearly 1300 of Carleton Watkins's "mammoth" plate photographs, so called because they were produced with startlingly large-format (18" x 22") glass negatives. Of these, fewer than 300 have ever been reproduced before now. Perhaps best known for his depictions of Yosemite National Park, later mimicked by Ansel Adams, Watkins also documented mining and railroading throughout the West, California's Franciscan missions, Arizona and Utah territories, Yellowstone National Park, and fascinating multipart panoramas of pre-1906 earthquake San Francisco. The result of an extraordinary amount of research by several scholars—all of the original negatives, sadly along with Watkins mental health, were lost in the 1906 earthquake and fire—the assembled contents reveal the vast scope and artistry of Watkins's work to an extent never before seen and rarely matched in recent publishing history. Each topical section is supported by introductory essays that cumulatively serve as an excellent biography of this enigmatic photographer. Naef is curator emeritus, department of photographs, J. Paul Getty Museum; Hult-Lewis is an independent scholar. VERDICT A monumental achievement in the pictorial historiography of 19th-century America, loaded with new images and data, this will be an indispensable resource for students of photography and U.S. history.—Douglas F. Smith, Berkeley P.L., CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606060056
  • Publisher: Getty Publications
  • Publication date: 11/15/2011
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 563,264
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 12.80 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Weston Naef is curator emeritus in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Christine Hult-Lewis is an independent scholar, based in San Francisco.

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