Exhibitions/ Art Object

Sugar Loaf Islands, Farallons

Artist:
Carleton E. Watkins (American, 1829–1916)
Date:
1868–69
Medium:
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions:
Image: 40 x 52.4; Mount: 55.3 x 66.3
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.100.107
Not on view
Watkins's technical virtuosity was honed in Yosemite, first in 1861 and again in 1865-66, when he returned as the official photographer for Josiah Whitney's California State Geological Survey. By the end of his extended stay he had mastered the manipulation of the cumbersome camera (three feet long when extended) and the mammoth glass plates, which had to be sensitized and developed in a dark room tent, often with water hauled by mules over long distances. Upon returning to San Francisco, Watkins printed his large negatives by laying them directly on albumen printing-out paper in the sun. His uncommon talent was recognized locally by Whitney, Clarence King, and others of the scientific community, nationally by the photographic press, and internationally through an award-winning display at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1867.
In 1868-69, Watkins visited the Farallon Islands thirty miles west of San Francisco, rocky outcrops inhabited by seals and sea birds. Although the islands were visited regularly by fishermen and commercial collectors of bird eggs, in this photograph Watkins avoided any reference to man. Isolated from the neighboring islands, the triangular rock is depicted as if on the fifth day of Creation when, the dry land having emerged from the swirling sea, the waters brought forth swarms of living creatures.
Inscription: Printed in black ink on mount, recto BR: "Sugar Loaf Islands & Seal Rocks // Farallons"
University Club, New York; San Francisco Mercantile Library (sold, Swann Auction Galleries, New York, May 10, 1979); [Hastings Galleries, New York]; [Graphics International]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, May 29, 1979

Amon Carter Museum of American Art. "Carleton E. Watkins: Photographer of the American West," April 1, 1983–May 22, 1983.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Carleton E. Watkins: Photographer of the American West," June 15, 1983–August 14, 1983.

Saint Louis Art Museum. "Carleton E. Watkins: Photographer of the American West," September 15, 1983–October 30, 1983.

Oakland Museum of California. "Carleton E. Watkins: Photographer of the American West," December 16, 1983–February 19, 1984.

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "From the Gilman Collection: Photographs Preserved in Ink," November 15, 1984–February 26, 1985.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Art of Photography 1839-1989," February 4, 1989–April 30, 1989.

National Gallery of Australia. "The Art of Photography 1839-1989," June 17, 1989–August 27, 1989.

Royal Academy of Arts. "The Art of Photography 1839-1989," September 23, 1989–December 23, 1989.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 25, 1993–July 4, 1993.

Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," August 7, 1993–October 2, 1993.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," June 19, 1994–September 11, 1994.

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.

Palmquist, Peter E. Carleton Watkins: Photographer of the American West. Albuquerque: Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 1983. pl. 38.

Apraxine, Pierre. Photographs from the Collection of the Gilman Paper Company. Reeds Springs, Mo.: White Oak Press, 1985. pl. 114.

Palmquist, Peter E. Carleton E. Watkins: Photographs, 1861–1874. San Francisco: Fraenkel Gallery, 1989. pl. 72.

Hambourg, Maria Morris, Pierre Apraxine, Malcolm Daniel, Virginia Heckert, and Jeff L. Rosenheim. The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. pl. 125.



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