The J. Paul Getty Museum

[San Miguel Mission]

Object Details

Title:

[San Miguel Mission]

Artist/Maker:

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829 - 1916)

Culture:

American

Place:

San Luis Obispo, California, United States (Place Created)

Date:

about 1876–1880

Medium:

Albumen silver print

Object Number:

99.XM.31.5

Dimensions:

36.7 × 52.4 cm (14 7/16 × 20 5/8 in.)

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Object Description

Forced to rent out space for commercial use, the formerly religious adobe of Mission San Miguel housed the Howe Sewing Machine Agency and a tavern alongside the church itself. The deserted building reflects the condition of most of the California missions, abandoned by the Spanish government in 1810. Established in 1776, the Franciscan mission system involved a network of twenty-one sanctuaries stretching from north to south along El Camino Real (the Royal Road). After a series of political conflicts that resulted in the territory known as New Spain seceding from Spain, the mission system began to disintegrate. By the 1870s, when this picture was taken, the mission complexes were the property of secular administrations that had commandeered the buildings, leaving only the actual sanctuary under church control.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Carleton Watkins: From Where the View Looked Best (February 15 to June 4, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 15 to June 4, 2000
Bibliography
Bibliography

Krell, ed. The California Missions: A Pictorial History (Menlo Park, CA: Sunset Books, 1999).