Old Faithful

Object Details


Old Faithful


William Henry Jackson (American, 1843 - 1942)




Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States (Place created)




Albumen silver print


51.4 x 42.4 cm (20 1/4 x 16 11/16 in.)

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A journey into Yellowstone Valley required several days of arduous travel via rail, stagecoach, and mule train when Jackson went there in 1870. His pictures, combined with extensive reports from the government-sponsored expedition, moved the United States Congress to designate the area a national park in 1872. Jackson captured Old Faithful geyser with a mammoth-plate camera, which exposed negatives that are the same size as this print. He included a figure at lower left to convey the enormity and heighten the romanticism of this awesome natural phenomenon.

Old Faithful, a geyser that throws about ten thousand gallons of water and steam up to one hundred seventy feet in the air, was so named in 1870 by the Washburn-Langford-Doane geological expedition because it seemed to spout "faithfully" for about five minutes every hour or so. In actuality, the eruptions occur more irregularly, with intervals varying from as much as half an hour to two and a quarter hours.

The Art of Photography: 1839 - 1989 (February 11 to December 23, 1989)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, February 11 to April 30, 1989
  • National Gallery of Australia, (Canberra), June 1 to August 1, 1989
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), September 23 to December 23, 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
In Focus: The Landscape (August 26, 2008 to January 11, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), August 26, 2008 to January 11, 2009