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Image of Distant View of the Domes, Yosemite, Calif.

Carleton E. Watkins , (Nov 11, 1829–Jun 23, 1916)

Distant View of the Domes, Yosemite, Calif.

c. 1867
15 3/8 in. x 20 in. (39.05 cm x 50.8 cm)

Medium and Support: mammoth-plate albumen print
Credit Line: museum purchase
Accession Number: 1983.21


Although best known for his images of unspoiled Yosemite Valley landscapes, Carleton Watkins also photographed industrial sites like the North Bloomfield Gravel Mines in Nevada County, California. While the two types of picture may seem antithetical, they share a goal—to redefine the wilds as an accessible and bountiful paradise. In Distant Views of the Domes, Watkins presents raw nature as a classically ordered landscape with limpid still waters in the foreground of a wide and welcoming vista that gently yields to distant and majestic mountains. Highlighting the natural beauty of the area, his serene images assured potential tourists of its accessibility and safety. Similarly, his photographs of mines showed industry and nature in harmony, highlighting opportunity and confirming the power of engineering to harness the region’s resources for the benefit of potential investors. Taken together these views present a seamless blend of wilderness and civilization, nature and industry, art and profit.

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