Cape Horn, Columbia River, Oregon

by Carleton Watkins

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Artist Statement

In July of 1867, Carleton Watkins arrived in Portland, Oregon, determined to expand the range of his work beyond his well known images of Yosemite Valley. He decided to take on another rugged view: that of the Columbia River Gorge. Travel was difficult—though railroads and highways would eventually service the area, Watkins’ visit preceded them by several years—forcing the photographer to go by steamships, barges, and portage railroads. It wasn’t just Watkins traveling. He had his mammoth-plate camera, his stereoscope camera, hundreds of glass negative plates, and the equipment and flammable chemicals needed to develop the negatives in tow. Despite these difficulties, Watkins produced at least 59 mammoth-plate photographs, the first known images to comprehensively document the mid-Columbia River.

Watkins captured some of the first photographs of now-iconic landmarks like Cape Horn. This particular photograph is widely considered one of Watkins’s finest images from his work in the Columbia River Gorge. Featured in the canoe is John Stephenson (Watkins’ guide and assistant), as well as apples from his family farm stacked on the left.

Why We Love It

Schlepping like his life depended on it didn’t stop Watkins from conquering new photographic frontiers. Cape Horn, Columbia River, Oregon represents one of at least 59 mammoth-plate images he produced on his expedition—the first known images to comprehensively document the mid-Columbia River. 150 years after the fact, Cape Horn, Columbia River, Oregon is widely considered a standout image from Watkins’ Columbia River Gorge work. It’s easy to see why. Taken from the Washington side of the Columbia River, this photograph captures the monumental stature of the mountains flanking the gorge, their steep contours and rugged textures juxtaposed with the serene surface of the water. Watkins’ assistant sits in the canoe for scale, a reminder of humankind’s smallness in these surroundings. It’s a tremendous sight, the sort of spacious, perspective-inducing image that’ll leave a lasting impression ... Read more on the blog!

Details

+ Limited-edition, exclusive to 20x200
+ Museum quality: archival inks, 100% cotton rag paper unless noted
+ Certificate of authenticity signed and numbered by our head curator is included
+ Handcrafted custom-framing is available

Our quoted dimensions are for the size of paper containing the images, not the printed image itself. We do not alter the aspect ratio, nor do we crop or resize the artists’ originals. All of our prints have a minimum border of .5 inches to allow for framing.

Medium:

Museo Portfolio Rag

Edition Structure:
8"x10" | edition of 20
11"x14" | edition of 250
16"x20" | edition of 50
20"x24" | edition of 25

Carleton Watkins

Carleton Watkins is perhaps the best known early western photographer. Watkins worked with a mammoth-plate camera, using the wet-collodion technique to produce strikingly detailed images. His work of the Yosemite Valley was instrumental in the creation of the Yosemite Grant and later the National Parks Service. Watkins grew up in upstate New York, but moved to San Francisco with dreams of striking gold. When that venture failed, he worked briefly in delivery and as a bookstore clerk. The bookstore was close to the studio of daguerreotypist Robert Vance, who taught Watkins the basics of photography. With this new skill, Watkins... Read More
traveled to the Yosemite Valley and made both mammoth-plate images and stereoscopic images. These were some of the first photographs of Yosemite ever seen in the East, eventually capturing the attention of the capitol. President Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant in 1864, setting aside the land for federal protection. Watkins continued to shoot in Yosemite for the California Geological Survey, later opening his own gallery just for his award-winning Yosemite images. Though he suffered a series of unfortunate events that led to the loss of his sight and many of his negatives, his images continue to live on.
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