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William H. Jackson

Grand Cañon of the Colorado
about 1880
albumen print
21 1/8 x 16 7/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase from the Charles Isaacs Collection made possible in part by the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment

Jackson took this image of the West’s most famous gorge when he no longer traveled for government survey teams, but, instead, had opened his Denver studio. This mammoth-plate photograph, called so because the glass-plate negative on which the image was made was nearly two feet high, was intended to be hung on a wall or displayed in an album. The strong dark form on the left frames the canyon walls and receding river beyond, creating a harmony which would be the envy of most landscape painters.