Carolyn Anspacher

Description (Brief)
Silver gelatin, mounted. Three-quarter head shot, woman with dark hair pulled back. Looking to the left. Woman not smiling. Can see pores and fine hairs on her face. Signed, ink (recto: bottom right). Verso: Adams stamp, title handwritten.
This photograph is unusual for two aspects not usually found in Adams’ most popular works – a human subject and artificial light. Carolyn Anspacher was an actress and journalist, as well as a lifelong friend of Ansel and Virginia Adams; Ansel’s inspiration for this portrait was not the idea of taking a candid snapshot of a friend, however. Adams wrote that the rigid, classical portrait was called “The Great Stone Face” by some, but that he “had a strong conviction that the most effective photographic portrait is one that reveals the basic character of the subject in a state of repose, when the configurations of the face suggest identity and personality” (“Examples,” p.37). The photographer’s satisfaction with this portrait led him to take several similar portraits throughout the 30s.
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
ca 1932
print made
Adams, Ansel
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 45 cm x 35.5 cm; 17 23/32 in x 13 31/32 in
place made
United States: California, San Francisco
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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