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Yosemite Album

Large Folio Album of Twenty-seven Photographs of Yosemite by the Celebrated Photographer, Carleton F. Watkins, Specially Prepared and Bound for the Famed Journalist, Albert D. Richardson

Artist: Carleton E. Watkins (1829 - 1916)
Date: 1869
average: 12 1/4 x 8 in. (31.1 x 20.3 cm)
shell: 3 in. × 19 5/8 in. × 22 1/2 in. (7.6 × 49.8 × 57.2 cm)
album: 1 7/8 × 18 1/2 × 21 3/8 in. (4.8 × 47 × 54.3 cm)
Medium: Albumen prints mounted in presentation album
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2006.69
front cover, stamped in gilt: Albert D. Richardson / Yosemite Photographs / 1869.

Place Depicted:
Not on View
Accession Number: 2006.69
Provenanceto Albert D. Richardson [1833-1869]. (William Reese Company, New Haven, CT); purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2006
Label TextLured to California during the gold rush, Carleton Watkins learned the practice of photography as an apprentice in San Francisco. He traveled to the Yosemite Valley in 1861 with a wet-plate camera and large, fragile glass plates, taking what would become the first of hundreds of “mammoth-plate” prints of the region. Mammoth plates were so called because the glass plates were the same size as the large final prints, usually 18 x 21 inches, which allowed photographers to produce outsized photographic prints before the development of photographic enlargers. Some of Watkins's photographs were used to sway President Lincoln to designate Yosemite as the first state park in 1864.

Watkins compiled this album of 27 photographs for his friend, patron, and promoter Albert Richardson. Richardson was a journalist for the New-York Tribune who had visited Watkins's photo studio in San Francisco while reporting on the opening of the Union Pacific railroad in 1869. Richardson was so impressed by Watkins's photographs that he wrote a glowing review about his Yosemite images for the Tribune.