Ansel Adams - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 12, 2022 | Phillips
  • Driving through New Mexico on a late afternoon in the fall of 1941, Ansel Adams stopped on the side of the road and hastily set up camera and tripod atop his car to capture a small village illuminated by the last rays of the setting sun. The resulting photograph, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, is one of the most celebrated images of his career and has become a touchstone of 20th-century photography. Moonrise was first reproduced in U.S Camera in 1943 where it inspired a great deal of acclaim, but Adams for the most part declined requests for it because the negative was profoundly difficult to work with and required an extensive course of burning and dodging to yield a print that met his high standards. Yet requests kept coming. In 1948 he took the radical step of reprocessing the negative to intensify its tonalites and to facilitate the production of perfect prints. After the successful reprocessing he began, very slowly, to fulfill print orders. Even so, prints of Moonrise, in any format, made before the 1970s are very rare. Adams biographer Mary Street Alinder states that the majority of prints of Moonrise were made after 1970, at which point the market for fine art photography had been established and Adams had earned his place in the pantheon of great photographers.


    The large-format 1960s print of Moonrise offered here presents an especially nuanced rendering of the negative. Adams’s printing of Moonrise evolved over the decades. Earlier prints show a gradual tonal scale with an emphasis on the mid-tones and more detail in the sky; later prints are far more dramatic tonally, with deeper blacks and brighter whites, in keeping with the general trend in Adams’s print-making style. The present print captures the subtleties of the earlier prints while incorporating the dramatic tonality that would become a hallmark of his later printing style.


    In addition to Adams’s stamps on the reverse of this print’s mount, it also bears the stamp of Garick Fine Arts, a gallery in Philadelphia. While Garick Fine Arts typically handled paintings, sculpture, and prints, a June 1969 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the gallery would begin exhibiting photography. The article notes:


    ‘This has been a season with much ado about photography as a fine art in Philadelphia. First we saw the Alfred Stieglitz Center of Photography at the Philadelphia Museum of Art move into full swing producing exhibits and adding to its archives. Now these efforts are beginning to stimulate related activity at the local commercial gallery level. A case in point is a series of exhibitions “Summer at Garick,” which will inaugurate a new art gallery, Garick Fine Arts, at 1811 Pine St. this week’ (‘Exhibits of Photos Launch the Garick,’ The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday, June 8, 1969).

    • Provenance

      Garick Fine Arts, Philadelphia
      Private Collection, Pennsylvania
      Phillips de Pury & Company, New York, 27 April 2005, lot 18
      Private Collection, Texas
      Collection of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

    • Literature

      Adams, Ansel Adams: The Making of 40 Photographs, p. 40
      Alinder and Szarkowski, Ansel Adams: Classic Images, pl. 32
      Haas, Senf, Ansel Adams, pl. 37 and p. 146
      Little, Brown and Company, Ansel Adams: The Grand Canyon and the Southwest, frontispiece
      Stillman, Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs, p. 175
      Szarkowski, Ansel Adams at 100, pl. 96

    • Catalogue Essay

      The photographs in this sale offered as lots 168 through 186 come from the collection of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and are being sold to benefit acquisition funds. Photography has been a focus of the museum since its founding in 1961 when Dorothea Lange approached the museum about acquiring her portraits of Western painter Charles Russell. Director Mitchell A. Wilder readily made the acquisition, initiating an active engagement with photography and photographers that continues today. In its history, the museum has pursued ambitious exhibition and publication programs, including Marnie Sandweiss’s groundbreaking Photography in Nineteenth Century America (1991) and John Rohrbach’s definitive Color: American Photography Transformed (2013). It was the Amon Carter Museum that commissioned Richard Avedon to produce the series of portraits exhibited and published in 1985 as In the American West.

      Driven by a succession of dynamic photography curators, the Amon Carter early-on established a robust photography acquisition program, collecting singular masterworks as well as entire archives. The collection now encompasses more than 45,000 exhibition-quality photographs ranging from one of the first photographs created in the United States to works made as recently as this year. It also includes eight artist archives – including those of Laura Gilpin, Carlotta Corpron, Eliot Porter, and Karl Struss – that allow scholars opportunities to delve deeply into the working methods of these seminal photographers.

Property of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art Sold to Benefit Acquisitions Funds


Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico

Gelatin silver print, probably printed late 1950s or early 1960s.
19 3/8 x 25 3/4 in. (49.2 x 65.4 cm)
Signed in ink on the mount; Carmel credit and printing information stamps (BMFA stamps 7 and 8), 'Garick Fine Arts, Inc., c/o 1811 Pine Street, Phila., Pa., 19103' stamp, and titled in an unidentified hand in ink on the reverse of the mount.

Full Cataloguing

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $176,400

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs, New York

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 12 October 2022