The J. Paul Getty Museum

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico

Object Details


Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico


Ansel Adams (American, 1902 - 1984)




Hernandez, New Mexico, United States (Place Created)


negative November 1, 1941; print December 16, 1948


Gelatin silver print

Object Number:



34.9 × 44 cm (13 3/4 × 17 5/16 in.)


© The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

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Object Description

Arguably Ansel Adams's most famous image, this photograph is titled Moonrise rather than Sunset, even though the moon technically does not rise in the sky. As a scholar noted: The factuality and, moreover, the meaning of the setting sun were rejected by him in favor of the expressive symbolism of the rising moon; of the shining luminescence ablaze with greatness in its primal mystery, dramatically isolated in the infinity of darkness.

Instead of making an unmanipulated print from the negative, Adams selectively printed the sky black and the foreground dark in order to achieve a particular illumination and spiritual transcendence. The photographer's skill and vision transformed the tiny town of Hernandez, dotted with glowing white cemetery and church crosses, into a spectral landscape.

Persistent Themes: Notable Photography Acquisitions, 1985-1990 (June 5 to September 2, 1990)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), June 5 to September 2, 1990
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
Ansel Adams at 100 (August 4, 2001 to September 22, 2002)
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco), August 4, 2001 to January 13, 2002
  • The Art Institute of Chicago, February 20 to June 2, 2002
  • The Hayward Gallery (London), July 11 to September 22, 2002
In Focus: The Sky (July 15 to December 4, 2011)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 26 to December 4, 2011
In Focus: Ansel Adams (March 18 to July 20, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 18 to July 20, 2014

Powell, Lawrence Clark and Ansel Adams. Photographs of the Southwest: Selected Photographs Made from 1928 to 1968 in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah (Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1976), pl. 55.

Adams, Ansel and Robert Baker. The Negative (Boston: Little, Brown, 1981), p. 126.

Szarkowski, John. Ansel Adams at 100, exh. cat. (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., in association with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2001), pl. 96.