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First View of the Yosemite Valley from the Mariposa Trail

A work made of albumen print.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of albumen print.




Carleton E. Watkins
American, 1829-1916

About this artwork

In the 1860s, Carleton Watkins was the first to document the untouched wilderness that would become Yosemite National Park. Transporting his fragile equipment on mule or carriage through difficult terrain, Watkins used a “mammoth-plate” camera whose glass negatives measured up to 18 by 22 inches and yielded remarkably detailed prints of the same size. He favored spectacular compositions with dramatic spatial depth. In this photograph, Watkins depicted Yosemite Valley’s immense span through the receding planes of mountains and the giant Sequoia trees that frame them. Watkins printed more than 1,100 mammoth-plate photographs over the course of his career. Unfortunately, the majority of his glass negatives and prints were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.


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Photography and Media


Carleton Watkins


First View of the Yosemite Valley from the Mariposa Trail


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1865–1866


Albumen print


Unmarked recto; verso unchecked


Image/paper: 39.9 × 52.4 cm (15 3/4 × 20 11/16 in.); Mount: 47.4 × 61 cm (18 11/16 × 24 1/16 in.)

Credit Line

Laura T. Magnuson and Maurice D. Galleher Endowments

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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