Ansel Adams (1902–1984)
Ansel Adams (1902–1984)

The Sierra Club Outing

Ansel Adams (1902–1984)
The Sierra Club Outing
San Francisco: Self-published, 1929. 25 gelatin silver 'Parmelian' prints on Dassonville Charcoal Black paper; each signed 'Ansel E. Adams' and numbered sequentially '1-25' in pencil (margin); each image approx. 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. (19.1 x 14.1 cm.) or inverse, each sheet 12 x 9 7/8 in. (30.5 x 25.1 cm.); letterpress title and date (colophon, cover); letterpress credit and edition with number '25' in pencil (colophon, back cover); letterpress plate list (colophon, inside back cover); number 25 from the edition of 25; contained in green linen portfolio with flaps and ties.
The artist;
gifted from the above to Stephen T. Mather (1867-1930);
by descent to the present owner.

Lot Essay

The titles are as follows:

1. Mount Humphreys
2. Mount Henry
3. Sally Keyes Lake
4. Sierra Club Commissary
5. Sierra Juniper – Mount Hooper
6. Seven Gables
7. In Mono Creek Canon
8. Summit of Mount Abbot
9. Mount Ritter and Banner Peak of Silver Pass
10. Aspen Grove – Fish Canon
11. Rainbow Falls
12. Devil's Postpile
13. Dan and Eddie Tachet
14. Minarets – Iceberg Lake
15. Mount Ritter and Banner Peak
16. Commissary at Garnet Lake Camp
17. Ascending Banner Peak
18. Sierra Club Party on Mount Ritter (Telephotograph from Banner Peak)
19. Mount Ritter from Mount Lyell (Telephotograph)
20. Mount Lyell
21. Mount Clark – Echo Ridge
22. Cockscomb Crest
23. Mount Conness – Tenaya Lake
24. Monolith – The Face of Half Dome
25. William Edward Colby – 1929

From his early years as a youth in San Francisco an influential industrialist from Chicago named Stephen T. Mather had frequently visited several of America’s National Parks in California. He was disappointed by their lack of maintenance and governmental oversight. In 1914 upon submitting a letter of protest to his fellow University of California graduate, Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane, he received an offer to become Assistant Secretary of the Interior and to manage the Parks. The National Park Service was founded two years later, with Mather serving as its director for the next fourteen years. Often using personal funds, Mather was responsible for increasing the number of parks and advancing the system into an innovative and superlative organization. Mather, known for his infectious enthusiasm and deep commitment to preserving the country’s breathtaking landscapes, founded and secured one of America’s most significant legacies. Of all the parks, Yosemite was widely known to be his favorite.

In 1918 at the age of sixteen, Ansel Adams worked as a custodian in Yosemite Valley. This role provided him ample time to photograph and learn about the Sierra Club, eventually becoming a board member and the Club’s official photographer. He met Mather during these early years of his career and it is highly likely the two formed a friendship, as the portfolio in the present lot was given to Mather by the artist himself. The portfolio has remained in the family ever since.

The Sierra Club Outing portfolio from 1929 comprises images taken by Adams during an annual month-long excursion known as the ‘High Trip.' The 1929 outing covered territory Adams had photographed previously and thus, he incorporated several of those negatives into this group, as well as four images from Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras from 1927. At the time, club members were able to purchase prints individually or as complete portfolios. Fifteen albums were known to be made between 1920 and 1945 that documented the artist's experiences with the Sierra Club in Yosemite Valley. Complete portfolios of these Parmelian prints from the 1920s are rarely available on the market, particularly with such exceptional provenance. This specific portfolio provides insight into the origins of Adams' photographic inspiration while celebrating the honorable work of Stephen T. Mather.


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