ANSEL ADAMS (1902–1984)
Mt. Moran and Jackson Lake from Signal Hill, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, c. 1941
gelatin silver print, flush-mounted on wood, printed mid-1950s
image/sheet/flush mount: 27 ½ x 34 ½ in. (69.8 x 87.6 cm.)
Gifted by the artist to former Sierra Club member and professor Dr. A. Starker Leopold, 1970;
acquired from the above by the present owner.
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Lot Essay

“The elements of our natural scene have been a source of enjoyment and inspiration for our people, and the establishment of the National Parks and Monuments to preserve and interpret these values is one of the highest expression of the democratic form of government.” - Ansel Adams

Adams first began to explore the making of murals and large format photographs in 1935 as part of his work for the Yosemite Park and Curry Company. In 1941, he was commissioned by the United States Department of the Interior to produce a series of large-scale mural prints for its Washington D.C. offices. It was during this time that Adams made his most iconic images, capturing the majestic beauty of the National Parks, while simultaneously encouraging Americans to appreciate nature and protect and conserve their natural resources.

A mutual agreement existed between Ansel Adams and Ebert Berlew, the first Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior regarding the use and printing of the negatives he made during this period, as illustrated in the below letter reproduced in Dr. Rebecca Senf’s book, The Making of a Photographer, the Early Work of Ansel Adams:

“The pictures will be made for an especial purpose—the Murals—and, while they may have some publicity value to your Department, they should not be used otherwise. If I come across exciting material that I would want for personal use I will photograph it on my personal film. It will be a simpler matter to keep material accounts straight. Conversely, when I am on personal excursions, I will not neglect opportunities to make negatives for the project” (Letter from Adams to Burlew, September, 30, 1941, AAA, p. 210).

In 1942, the mural project was cut short, due to the United States’ entry into WWII. Shortly afterwards, Adams printed 225 11x 14 inch fine art gelatin silver prints and gifted them to the National Archives. In 1946, after the war, he resumed photographing and exploring the themes of the National Parks and Monuments as part of his Guggenheim grant.

Wyoming and the Grand Tetons mountain range was a beloved subject. Additional well-known works from the Grand Tetons in Wyoming include, The Tetons and Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 1942, Mount Moran and Jackson Lake from Signal Hill, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 1942 and Mount Moran, Autumn, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 1948. (See Lot ...)

The print offered here of Mount Moran and Jackson Lake from Signal Hill, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, c. 1941, is a rare example. The negative was made while traveling for the Department of the Interior mural project. Most likely printed in the mid-1950’s, this rare work was mounted on wood and framed at The Atelier frame shop.

This print was given as a gift from Ansel Adams to Dr. A. Starker Leopold in 1970. Dr. Leopold was a fellow Sierra Club member and professor at the University of California, Berkeley. This is the first time this version of the image has come to market. The original negative is housed in the archives of the Center for Creative Photography in Arizona.
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