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Timothy H. O'Sullivan

Tufa Domes, Pyramid Lake, Nevada (King Survey)
albumen print
7 7/8 x 10 5/8 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

Looming like marooned modern sculptures, the tufa domes of Pyramid Lake provide the interest in this photograph. O’Sullivan was fresh from Civil War battle grounds and may have been looking for an eternal stability. He made this picture while working on a survey of the West headed by Clarence King, a strong-willed geologist who believed the earth had been formed by a series of violent upheavals of which this landscape was evidence.