Yosemite

Fiske, George, 1835-1918

Details

1 album (64 photographic prints) : albumen, 29 x 37 cm (album).
Album containing 48 photographs by George Fiske of spectacular Yosemite views, 11 photographs of Colorado--including 10 by Olin D. Wheeler, and 5 unsigned 8x10 photographs of Salt Lake City, possibly by Charles R. Savage -- Noteworthy are Fiske's images reflecting seasonal changes in the region, particularly a photograph of a snow-covered pine and photographs of ice formations surrounding waterfalls. Because he lived in the park, Fiske was the first to photograph views of the valley in the winter, creating dramatic prints that were widely sought. This album also includes a photograph of Fiske's donkey. During the summer months, an attractive black horse pulled Fiske's buggy, but in the cold winter months a donkey carted his gear. Ansel Adams was powerfully influenced by Fiske's work. In 1916, after seeing photographs by Fiske, Adams convinced his parents to take him to Yosemite. Many of Fiske's negatives were destroyed in a house fire. In 1920, two years after Fiske's death, Adams printed from many of Fiske's surviving large format negatives and campaigned for their proper conservation. But Adams was ignored. The plates stored in the attic of Yosemite Park Company sawmill were destroyed in another fire in 1943. "If that hadn't happened," said Adams, "Fiske could have been revealed today, I firmly believe, as a top photographer, a top interpretive photographer...I do get excited at Fiske;" from Paul Hickman and Terence Pitts. George Fiske, Yosemite photographer. Flagstaff: Northland Press ; [Tucson] : Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, 1980. Other views by Fiske included in the album are Nevada Fall, Vernal Fall, Yosemite Chapel, Half Dome, El Capitan, and the three peaks known as the Three Brothers. The album contains 10 photographs signed "Wheeler," probably Olin D. Wheeler, who was a topographer with John Wesley Powell's survey of the Colorado River between 1874 and 1879. Wheeler photographs include the town of Manitou Springs, Colorado; a view of a gabled-roof house with porch on Teachout's ranch, owned by Harlow Teachout, in Monument Park, eight miles north of Colorado Springs; and rock formations in Garden of the Gods. The photographer of one view of early Colorado Springs is unidentified. There are five large 8x10 photographs of early Salt Lake City: the Mormon Temple under construction--only the first two stories had been completed at the time the photo was taken, some years before the Temple was dedicated in 1893; the Gothic-style Assembly Hall on the Mormon Temple Grounds, begun in 1877 and completed in 1882; the Tabernacle featuring its oval dome roof; Eagle Gate; Beehive House; Lion House; and Gardo House, completed in 1883.
George Fiske grew up on a farm in New Hampshire, and at the age of 22, moved west to Sacramento and went to work as a bank clerk for his half-brother Thomas Fiske of Thomas Fiske & Co. Fiske must have come to know photographers Robert H. Vance and Charles Leander Weed of Vance & Weed Photographic Gallery; Weed was the first to photograph Yosemite. In the following years, Fiske worked as a freelance photographer and farmer before finally finding employment as Carleton Watkins' assistant. He respected Watkins to such a degree that he named his first son Carleton W. Fiske. In 1879, Fiske and his wife moved to Yosemite where Fiske spent the rest of his life photographing and studying the region, alongside Galen Clark, the first guardian of Yosemite when the national park was created. Included in this album are photographs of Galen Clark standing on Overhanging Rock, Glacier Point.
Cover title.
Considerable foxing on first page.
Photographs are mounted on rectos of 60 leaves of white cardboard; Fiske photographs signed with hand-printed letters in lower right corner "Fiske," with stock number in lower left corner, in white. The Wheeler photographs are signed "Wheeler" in typeset letters in lower left corner, with stock number and caption/location in lower left corner.
Bound in contemporary album, three-quarters tan calf and dark red cloth grain boards; ornamental gilt borders; gilt bands on spine; green, gray, and gold floral sprigged paper pastedowns; gold-stamped cover title "Yosemite" on upper board.
Part of the Photograph Album Collection (Collection 94) in Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Additional information available at Onlive Archive of California, in particular the Bancroft Library album of 68 photographs entitled Views of Yosemite by George Fiske, ca. 1880-1890.

Related Resources

View this description in WorldCat: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/904776671