Ancient Ruins in the Cañon de Chelle, N.M. In a niche 50 feet above present Cañon bed.

A work made of albumen print.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of albumen print.

Date:

1873

Artist:

Timothy O’Sullivan
American, born Ireland, 1840–1882

About this artwork

In 1871 Timothy O’Sullivan, an experienced outdoor photographer, was recruited to contribute to a survey of the American Southwest with goals of assessing the native population, selecting sites for future military installations and railways, identifying mineral and other resources, and clarifying the border with Mexico. Working with cartographers and natural scientists, O’Sullivan documented lands unexplored by non-Native Americans, providing highly detailed photographs such as this image of Canyon de Chelly in northwestern northeastern Arizona, which had been continuously inhabited by the Anasazi and Navajo for nearly 5,000 years. Here O’Sullivan depicted the White House ruins, the striations of the canyon wall, and two small figures below, conveying the site’s monumental character. Although O’Sullivan’s famously sparse views are considered by some as forerunners to the modernist aesthetic of the early 20th century, such documents were likely intended only to imitate the graphic simplicity of maps and charts.

Currently Off View

Photography

Artist

Timothy O'Sullivan

Title

Ancient Ruins in the Cañon de Chelle, N.M. In a niche 50 feet above present Cañon bed.

Origin

United States

Date

1873

Medium

Albumen print

Inscriptions

Stamped recto, on album page, upper center, in black ink: "[War Department insignia]"; printed recto, on album page, upper left, in black ink: "Geographical & Geological Explorations & Surveys West of the 100th. Meridan."; recto, on album page, upper right, in black ink: "Expedition of 1873.-Lieut. Geo. M. Wheeler, Corps of Engineers, Commanding."; recto, on album page, lower left, below image, in black ink: "T. H. O'Sullivan, Phot."; recto, on album page, lower right, below image, in black ink: "No. 10."; recto, on album page, lower center, below image, in black ink: "ANCIENT RUINS IN THE CAÑON DE CHELLE, N.M. / In a niche 50 feet above present Cañon bed."; unmarked verso

Dimensions

27.4 × 20.1 cm (image/paper); 49.7 × 39.3 cm (mount)

Credit Line

Photography Gallery Fund

Reference Number

1959.615a

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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