ANSEL ADAMS (1902–1984)
ANSEL ADAMS (1902–1984)
ANSEL ADAMS (1902–1984)
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ANSEL ADAMS (1902–1984)

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941

Details
ANSEL ADAMS (1902–1984)
Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941
gelatin silver mural print, flush-mounted on board, printed late 1960s
image/sheet: 40 7/8 x 59 1/4 in. (103.8 x 150.4 cm.)
overall framed: 54 1/4 x 71 7/8 x 2 1/2 in. (137.7 x 182.5 x 6.3 cm.)
Provenance
Sotheby's New York, April 18, 1996, lot 260;
acquired from the above sale by the present owner.
Literature
Ansel Adams, Photographs of the Southwest, New York Graphic Society, Boston, 1966, pl. 55.
James Alinder, Ansel Adams, 1902-1984, The Friends of Photography, Carmel, 1984, p. 55.
Andrea G. Stillman, Ansel Adams: Letters and Images 1916-1984, Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1988, p. 142.
Ansel Adams, Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs, Little, Brown and Co., New York, 1989, cover, p. 40.
John Szarkowski, Ansel Adams at 100, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art/Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 2001, pl. 96.
Anne Hammond, Ansel Adams, Divine Performance, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2002, p. 94, fig. 4.10.
Karen E. Haas and Rebecca A. Senf, Ansel Adams in the Lane Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2005, pl. 37, p. 68.
Andrea G. Stillman (ed.), Looking at Ansel Adams: The Photographs and the Man, Little, Brown and Co., New York, 2012, p. 114.

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Rebecca Jones
Rebecca Jones Associate Vice President, Specialist, Head of Department

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Lot Essay

We were sailing southward along the highway not far from Española when I glanced to the left and saw an extraordinary situationan inevitable photograph. Ansel Adams

Decades after the image was captured, Ansel Adams vividly recalled the circumstances surrounding the picture. 'Well, this was a tremendous sight to be seen, and I had to beg everybody in the car to help me to get everything out, to get the tripod. And the magnificent white mountains, clear day, church [with] a flat adobe roof, and the moon [that] was up about, oh, 30 degrees, several days before full. And there was a long line of clouds here, the sun was just running low behind them, putting the light on white crosses. I think it was one of the great scientists who said that ‘chance favors the prepared mind,’ and in this case I had to be sufficiently prepared to make this work. I instinctively felt I had quite the extraordinary image, and I think you know it.' It was a remarkable achievement in an otherwise disappointing day that had yielded little success along the Chama River valley on November 1st, during Adams' commission to photograph the Southwest by the U.S. department of the Interior and the U.S. Potash Company of New Mexico.

In the original version of the image, which captures a moon rising over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains sprawled over northern New Mexico, the sky is noticeably more even, light and flat. It is believed that between 1941 and 1948 Adams made only ten prints from the 8 x 10 camera that show the original tonality of the composition. However, following demand for the image after its publication in Camera Annual in 1943, in December of 1948 Adams reprocessed the negative, submerging it up to the horizon line in Kodak IN-5, subsequently yielding a strong intensification effect, from which the new era of Moonrise, Hernandez prints began, showing a darkened sky, a brighter moon, feathery clouds and stronger contrasts within the buildings in the foreground. Gradually, Adams increased the size of his prints of the image, culminating in what he termed the ‘mural-size’, of which the present lot is an example. Like most mural-size prints, this one is not signed. It is believed that only a dozen mural size prints of Moonrise, Hernandez have been made.

Measuring 40 7/8 x 59 1/4 inches, this the largest mural sized print of this 20th century masterpiece to come to auction. It has remained in the same private collection for the last twenty-five years.


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