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Timothy H. O'Sullivan

Cañon de Chelle, Walls of the Grand Cañon about 1200 Feet in Height (Wheeler Survey)
albumen print
8 x 10 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

This view of one of the most famous nineteenth-century landscapes of the American West possesses such an immediacy that one can imagine being the first to discover this canyon. Three tall spires stand like sentinels overlooking the scene as if offering a sense of safety and refuge. However, another O’Sullivan picture, taken further into the valley, shows cliff-side dwellings, evidence of an earlier civilization.