Carleton Watkins - A Constant Pursuit: Photographs from the Collection of Ed Cohen & Victoria Shaw New York Thursday, October 4, 2018 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Purchased in Nevada, early 1980s
    Sotheby's, New York, 12 October 2000, lot 38

  • Literature

    Naef and Hult-Lewis, Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs, no. 1165

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Watkins’s visual genius was in knowing exactly where to position his camera to maximize the potential of each subject. His viewpoints were consistently so perfect they set the example for all future representations by those who walked in his footsteps. . .”
    Weston Naef

    During his long career chronicling the American West, Carleton Watkins produced only a few glass positives, such as the masterful view of Virginia City, Nevada, offered here. Positives were made-to-order for clients, and were typically lit from behind to create a dynamic viewing experience. Very few of Watkins’ glass positives survive. Watkins scholar Peter Palmquist identified a set of six glass views of Yosemite made for California Governor George C. Pardee. A folding screen made up of Watkins Yosemite views is in the collection of the California Museum of Photography at the University of California, Riverside.

    Much rarer is this single view made in Nevada, far from Watkins’s home territory of Yosemite. As of this writing, no other glass positives of Nevada are known. Weston Naef, compiler of the Watkins catalogue raisonné, locates only two albumen prints of the image, and notes that it is the central image in a three-part panorama of Virginia City.


Virginia City From Water Flume

Glass positive.
13 3/4 x 17 3/4 in. (34.9 x 45.1 cm)
Credited, titled and annotated '424' in the glass margin.

$20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for $25,000

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A Constant Pursuit: Photographs from the Collection of Ed Cohen & Victoria Shaw

New York Auction 4 October 2018