Ansel Adams (1902-1984); The Golden Gate before the Bridge, San Francisco, California;
Lot 45W
Ansel Adams
(1902-1984)
The Golden Gate before the Bridge
Sold for US$ 162,500 inc. premium

Fine Photographs

2 Oct 2017, 14:00 EDT

New York

Lot Details
Ansel Adams (1902-1984)
The Golden Gate before the Bridge, 1932 (not 1933, as currently stated)
Gelatin silver mural print, probably unique, flush-mounted on Crescent Illustration board, Gelatin silver mural print, printed c. 1960, signed with stylus in the image; titled in ink and credit stamp on the flush-mount verso.
image/flush-mount 19 1/2 x 27 3/4in (49.5 x 70.5cm)

Footnotes

  • Literature
    Ansel Adams: An Autobiography, Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1985, p. 114.
    Alinder and Szaskowski, Ansel Adams: Classic Images, Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1985, pl. 11.
    Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1983, p. 18.
    De Cock (ed.), Ansel Adams, Morgan & Morgan, Hastings-on-Hudson, 1972, pl. 23.
    Mary Street Alinder, Ansel Adams: A Biography, Bloomsbury, 2014,
    in the unpaginated section of illustrations between pp. 128-129.

    The Golden Gate Before the Bridge is a picture that remains unforgettable. Ansel awoke one San Francisco morning in late April 1932 to the sight of billowing clouds above the Golden Gate. He had just purchased his first eight-by-ten-inch view camera, a Folmer Universal, that used film, not glass plates. Grabbing his new equipment, he drove out towards Land's End, parked, and then hiked along a trail down to the edge of the cliff, where the panorama of sky, clouds and ocean played above the horizon of the green hills of Marin County, across the Strait.
    Ansel scaled the earth to man size and the sky to infinity. The shore and ocean of the Golden Gate, the entrance to San Francisco Bay, comprise only quarter of the image area. The sky, mounded with clouds, dwarfs the earth below.
    As memorable as we find the clouds in a few of Ansel's earlier pictures, The Golden Gate Before the Bridge signals the inception of consistently-detailed and great skies. To make this negative, he used his new eight-by-ten-inch camera loaded with Kodak Super-Panchromatic film, and added K3, a strong yellow filter, before the lens. With the sky presenting a whole new subject possibility, Ansel's lenses could enlarge his vision to include the heavens.
    Mary Street Alinder, Ansel Adams: A Biography, pp. 78-79.

    At the time of writing, no other mural print of the image in this size is known to exist. It is also atypical of much of Adams' mural work in that it is both signed and stamped.

    Since the publication of the catalogue, one other comparable (if not precisely identical) mural print of this image has been proposed, if not substantiated, in a private US collection.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that the print was probably made in the early 1960s. Since the catalogue went to press, another mural print of this image, with similar (if not necessarily identical) dimensions, has been proposed, although cannot be further substantiated.
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