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Rock On: New Edition by Carleton Watkins!

Cathedral Rocks, with lake and trees in foreground, Yosemite Valley, Calif. by Carleton Watkins
8"x10" ($24) | 11"x14" ($60) | 16"x20" ($240) | 20"x24" ($600) | 30"x40" ($1,800)

Happy birthday to America’s National Park Service! The federal agency turns 100 on August 25th, and since we’d hate to miss an opportunity to party in the name of parks, we’re celebrating the best way we know how: with art.

The towering majesty of Cathedral Rocks, with lake and trees in foreground, Yosemite Valley, Calif. was captured by Carleton Watkins as he traveled through Yosemite Valley. His images of the valley’s gorgeous wilderness quickly became popular, making it all the way to the White House. Watkins’ work had a major impact on government policy: After seeing them, President Lincoln signed the 1864 Yosemite Grant, setting the land aside for protection by the federal government. This grant—and the popularity of Yosemite Park, which was established in 1890—paved the way for the creation of the National Park Service in 1916. And it all began with art!

One of the reasons we’re drawn to Carleton Watkins’ work is because we seem to share a similar ideology when it comes to Art For Everyone. As Weston Naef (founding curator of the Getty Museum’s Department of Photographs) explained when he penned the intro to our Mirror Lake release, Watkins was an early expert in reproducing photographs, and often sold his reproductions at very affordable prices so that the images could be seen and owned by a wider range of art appreciators. The equivalent of a 16”x20” print of Watkins’ work sold in his own day and age would cost just a little more than a 16”x20” of today’s release.

We love that this natural structure is called Cathedral Rocks. Nowadays, we toss around words like awesome and wonderful to describe anything from coffee blends to smartphone apps, but in the 1860s, scenes like this filled Watkins (and anyone who viewed his photographs) with awe and wonder. It wouldn’t be too far to describe this image as divine.

With art for everyone,
Jen Bekman + Team 20x200