Ansel Adams - Photographs New York Thursday, April 8, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gift of the artist to long-time assistant, Jim Alinder

  • Literature

    Alinder, Group f.64:Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and the Community of Artists Who Revolutionized American Photography, n.p.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The first showing of Nevada Fall, Yosemite Valley was in 1932 when it was one of ten images Adams included in his section of the iconic Group f.64 exhibition at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco. Adams’s selection of this image, one of just three landscapes, meant that it provided important testimony to his creative vision. The photograph is a direct expression of the Group f.64 practice of filling the picture space with the object itself. Adams had been doing this for years, but his earlier photographs of waterfalls were static compositions. In this image, Nevada Fall cascades powerfully out of the picture and right at the viewer. This photograph documents a new and more expressive way of seeing for Adams.

    In his essay 'The New Photography,' published in 1934, Adams chose Nevada Fall, Yosemite Valley as the first illustration. Its caption reads, 'A superb study of water, considered by the photographer his best landscape.' Adams concludes his essay by declaring, 'Photography makes the moment enduring and eloquent.'

    The presence of Adams’s middle initial “E.” in his signature on this print is indicative of its early date. Adams was named for his uncle, Ansel Easton. He used the ‘E.’ in his signature until 1932 when it was revealed to him that his uncle had cheated his father in a business scheme in 1911, ruining him financially. After that point, Adams forever omitted the initial from his signature. This print bears a Sierra Club exhibition label on the reverse of its mount. The Sierra Club was central to Adams’s life for decades. He joined the Club in 1919 and became the official photographer of the annual Sierra Club High Sierra Outings in 1928. His images often graced the pages of the Sierra Club Bulletin and he served as a director from 1934 to 1971. The Sierra Club label on the verso of this print indicates it was exhibited at Sierra Club headquarters.

    Nevada Fall, Yosemite Valley was made with an 8-by-10-inch Folmer Universal camera, a Goerz Dagor 12-inch lens with a K1 filter, and exposed for 1/75th of a second at f16 on Eastman super-sensitive panchromatic film.


Nevada Fall

Gelatin silver print.
9 1/2 x 7 1/8 in. (24.1 x 18.1 cm)
Signed 'Ansel E. Adams,' titled and dated in pencil on the mount; San Francisco credit label (BMFA label 3) and a Sierra Club exhibition label titled in an unidentified hand in ink on the reverse of the mount.

$30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for $30,240

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairman, Americas



New York Auction 8 April 2021