Monolith--The face of Half-Dome

Description (Brief)
Silver gelatin, mounted. Monolith with smaller snow covered rock formations around it. Signed, ink (recto: bottom right). Verso: Adams stamp with handwritten title, ink top center. Second stamp "Portfolio Three (Yosemite Valley) Ansel Adams Special Print Published by The Sierra Club San Francisco 1959 Reproduction Rights Preserved" Stamp.
“I saw the photograph as a brooding form, with deep shadows and a distant sharp white peak against a dark sky,” Adams wrote of the scene before him on April 17, 1927, when, on a hike with his future wife Virginia, he took this iconic image (“Examples,” p.3). It was early in the photographer’s career, and because of the expense and bulk of his photographic plates, he only took a few with him for the hike in Yosemite. Still, what he lacked in material, Adams made up for in technique. He later recalled that “this photograph represents my first conscious visualization; in my mind’s eye I saw (with reasonable completeness) the final image as made,” and counted the actualization of this image in a successful print one of the most exciting moments of his career (“Examples,” p.5).
Ansel Adams (1902-1984) is one of the most well-known twentieth century photographers. His contributions to the field of photography include his innovation and teaching of the Zone System. The quality of his photographs set the standard by which many straight photographs are judged.
The collection in the Photographic History Collection consists of twenty-five photographs, all printed in or about 1968. All are gelatin silver, mounted, labeled and signed in ink by the photographer. The photographs include some of his most well-known images, but also portraits and objects. The selection of images was made in collaboration between the collecting curator and Adams.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
negative made
print made
Adams, Ansel
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 45.5 cm x 35.6 cm; 17 29/32 in x 14 1/32 in
place made
United States: California, Yosemite National Park
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Photo History Collection
Ansel Adams Collection
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Photo History Collection
Ansel Adams Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Reproduction rights held by the Center for Creative Photography--ARIZONA

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