The J. Paul Getty Museum

[Railroad] / [Railroad Down the Mountain]

Object Details


[Railroad] / [Railroad Down the Mountain]


Carleton Watkins (American, 1829 - 1916)






Salted paper print

Object Number:



34.1 × 42.2 cm (13 7/16 × 16 5/8 in.)

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Object Description

Against the soft, organic edges of the Las Mariposas hills, a human-made road carved out for the rail route appears like a sharply engraved line. Carleton Watkins photographed many images of Las Mariposas, the mineral-rich estate of John C. Frémont, former Republican presidential candidate and United States senator. As the owners of a gold mine, the Frémonts--with whom Watkins maintained a close relationship--were among the wealthiest and most influential people in California. On the way to and from the Frémonts' gold mine, Watkins made at least six exposures. This study, surely made on his return late in the day, benefits from the afternoon sun.

Carleton Watkins: Western Landscape and the Classical Vision (March 13 to May 27, 1990)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), March 13 to May 27, 1990
Pioneers of Landscape Photography: Carleton Watkins and Gustave Le Gray (September 1 to November 7, 1993)
  • Städtische Galerie im Städelsches Kunstinstitut (Frankfurt), September 1 to November 7, 1993
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
Dialogue Among Giants: Carleton Watkins and the Rise of Photography in California (October 14, 2008 to March 1, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 14, 2008 to March 1, 2009

Fels, Thomas Weston. Carleton Watkins, Photographer: Yosemite and Mariposa Views from the Collection of the Park McCullough House, North Bennington, Vermont, exh. cat. (Williamstown, Mass.: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1983), p. 35.

Pioneers of Landscape Photography: Gustave Le Gray, Carleton E. Watkins: Photographs from the Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, exh. cat. (Frankfurt am Main: Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut; Malibu, Calif.: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), p. 41.