Anne W. Brigman (born Anne Wardrope Nott and married in 1894 to Martin Brigman, a San Francisco sea captain) was known for her photographs of female nudes in landscape settings. Enjoying early success as a Pictorialist, she was a member of the Camera Club of San Francisco and the Photo-Secession group. The January 1909 issue of Camera Work published five of Brigman's photographs, including The Dying Cedar, accompanied by this statement: "Mrs. Annie W. Brigman, of Oakland, California, has during the past few years gained a prominent position amongst American camera workers." Because critics unfamiliar with California and the Sierra Nevada sometimes accused Brigham of staging photographs in her studio, the editors added: "These negatives are not produced in a studio 'fitted with papier-mache trees and painted backgrounds,' but have been taken in the open, in the heart of the wilds of California."
Nature was paramount to Brigman's life and work. Often using herself or friends as models for her photographs of nudes she usually juxtaposed the figures with trees or rocks, reflecting her celebration of woman and nature as parallel sources of energy. Brigam also wrote expressive poetry; and in 1929 she published a book of poems titled Songs of a Pagan. These lines from the poem "Cry" describe her photograph of The Dying Cedar.
Beloved Earth...I am weary of your mighty clasp.
Life Crowds...I am exhausted with the stern decree
Of your relentless, aging binding, bending grasp...
Merry A. Foresta American Photographs: The First Century (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996)