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Cantor Center Presents Exhibition of Carleton Watkins’s Works

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Yosemite National Park is about to celebrate a milestone, with the 150th anniversary of the grant that would advocate the protection of the area. And this Wednesday, the Cantor Center for the Arts at Stanford University is commemorating that occasion in a new exhibition.

Titled Carelton Watkins: The Stanford Albums, this exhibition features over eighty original mammoth prints from the three unique albums of Watkins’s work. Those books are Photographs of the Yosemite Valley (1861 and 1865-66), Photographs of the Pacific Coast (1862-76), and Photographs of the Columbia River and Oregon (1867 and 1870). The exhibition will also feature cartographic visualizations, that were developed in collaborations with Stanford’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis and the Bill Lane Center for the American Vest, providing dynamic context for both the geography and natural history of Watkins’s photographs.

Among the works featured in this exhibition includes photographs of the Lower Yosemite Falls, the Sugar Loaf Islands and Seal Rocks Farallons, the Washington Column, and the Cathedral Rocks. A sample of what’s to come, can be seen on the Cantor Center’s website at

In a little information about the artist Carleton Watkins, he was born in Upstate New York in 1829, and moved to the Bay Area in 1852, where he began his career as a photographer. His works mostly captured the American West, including mining towns and majestic wilderness. Though acclaimed, he struggled finanicially, and at one time was living in a box car. Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which destroyed Watkins’s studio and negatives, he was committed to a Napa State Hospital, where he died in 1916.

The Carleton Watkins exhibition is on view until August 17th.


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