The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Cliff House, San Francisco

Object Details

Title:

The Cliff House, San Francisco

Artist/Maker:

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829 - 1916)

Culture:

American

Place:

San Francisco, California, United States (Place Created)

Date:

about 1879–1880

Medium:

Albumen silver print

Object Number:

92.XM.90

Dimensions:

36.2 × 53.3 cm (14 1/4 × 21 in.)

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Object Description

Dozens of people on a beach enjoy the benefits of California's moderate climate, which drew a large number of settlers and tourists to the state during this period. Many of San Francisco's prominent families such as the Hearsts, Crockers, and Stanfords, would drive their carriages out to this spot along the beach, not far from San Francisco Bay, for horse racing. Carleton Watkins often photographed such scenes of recreation near the Cliff House. the building perched atop the overhang.

Unlike earlier images in which people appeared blurred as a result of long exposure time, this image captures individuals clearly, even as they moved. By the time Watkins created this photograph, the light sensitivity of photographic material had developed to such an extent that more spontaneity was possible and the motion of people and water could be stopped.

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

Naef, Weston J. Carleton Watkins: From where the view looked best, exh. brochure (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum), fig. 3.