Ancient Ruins in the Cañon de Chelle, New Mexico, In a Niche Fifty Feet Above Present Cañon Bed

Object Details

Title:

Ancient Ruins in the Cañon de Chelle, New Mexico, In a Niche Fifty Feet Above Present Cañon Bed

Artist/Maker(s):

Timothy H. O'Sullivan (American, about 1840 - 1882)

Culture:

American

Date:

1873

Medium:

Albumen silver print

Dimensions:

27.6 x 19.2 cm (10 7/8 x 7 9/16 in.)

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In 1873 Timothy O'Sullivan led a splinter group from Lieutenant George Wheeler's geological expedition to Zuni Pueblo in northeast Arizona and to the pre-Columbian cliff dwellings known as the White House Ruins at Cañon de Chelle, mostly dating from the eleventh century. O'Sullivan was one of the first people to photograph the structures nestled in the canyon wall.

Above the architectural forms, the monumental striated rock formation hovers illogically where the sky should be. O'Sullivan, photographing from a great distance, conveyed the sense of overwhelming scale. Along with the two tiny figures standing at the left center, the photograph's original caption, which identifies the location as: "In a Niche 50 feet above Present Cañon Bed," provides a measure of scale.

Exhibitions
Experimental Photography: The First Golden Age 1851 - 1889 (April 11 to June 25, 1989)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), April 11 to June 25, 1989
Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA, (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
Capturing Time: A Celebration of Photographs (December 1, 1997 to March 1, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 1, 1997 to March 1, 1998