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Reflection, Merced River New Acquisition

Ansel Adams Original Photographs

Negative: ca. 1960
Print: ca. 1962
Signed "Ansel Adams"
Image Size 20  x 16”
Condition: Very Good

Read The Story About This Photograph

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Overview

Only a finite number of Ansel Adams Originals exist in the world. Each masterpiece combines the patience the artist used to capture perfect light and shadow, with the emotion he felt when confronted by the grandeur of the American landscape. Ansel’s rare ability to transform geographic reality into a transcendent emotional experience for the viewer established him as one of the foremost American photographers—and conservationists—of his time. Ansel Adams photographs served witness to the powerful beauty of America’s wilderness, influencing the protection of vast swaths of land in the West. Honoring Ansel with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980, President Jimmy Carter stated: “At one with the power of the American landscape, and renowned for the patient skill and timeless beauty of his work, photographer Ansel Adams has been a visionary in his efforts to preserve this country’s wild and scenic areas, both on film and on Earth. Drawn to the beauty of nature’s monuments, he is regarded by environmentalists as a monument himself, and by photographers as a national institution. It is through his foresight and fortitude that so much of America has been saved for future Americans.”

Our 117-year-old business is still run by members of Ansel Adams' family, and commits to upholding the integrity and legacy of our gallery’s namesake. The Ansel Adams Gallery proudly houses the most extensive collection of Ansel Adams original photographs for sale in the world. Each original photograph we sell has a Certificate of Authenticity that states it has been authenticated by the Adams family as composed, exposed and printed by the artist himself. 

We are extremely selective about the origin and condition of each work of art we represent. If, for any reason, your photograph does not meet your expectations, we offer a full 30-day refund less the cost of shipping. Original photographs typically range from $4,000 to $70,000For more information call 888-238-9244 or email originals@anseladams.com.

We welcome you to join us in our shared sense of pride, commitment, and responsibility—to both Ansel's artwork, and the story from which it was born. As an owner of an original Ansel Adams photograph, you become part of Ansel's legacy, honoring the exceptional beauty of America's landscapes and the call to protect them for generations to come.

Learn more about Collecting Ansel Adams Photography

About This Image

When you imagine Ansel Adams setting up to take a photograph, what do you see? Perhaps you’re envisioning Cedric Wright’s iconic image of Ansel standing atop his car to photograph Yosemite National Park in 1942. Or perhaps your mind’s eye visualizes him peering out over the Diving Board, a sheer outcropping 3,500 feet above Yosemite Valley, to capture the perfect shot of Half Dome. No matter how you picture Adams at his work, you’re probably not picturing a Polaroid instant camera—yes, the one you had in the 80’s—in his hands. Given what you may have heard about Ansel’s favored photographic equipment, it may surprise you to know that Adams’ Reflection, Merced River was created as perhaps one of the earliest Polaroids in history.

Around 1962 or 1963, according to the stamp on this print’s reverse, Ansel created this image of the Merced River as seen from the Gates of the Valley, near the western end of Yosemite National Park. Nestled among the banks of the Merced, this unique viewpoint provides a glorious look at both El Capitan on the left and Bridalveil Fall on the right, as well as a peek at Sentinel Rock in the background. No wonder it’s often referred to by park visitors as simply the “Valley View.” When Ansel made this image, he did so using a standard 4” x 5” view camera, one of the stalwarts in his photographic repertoire. But joining this familiar camera was a new player—Polaroid’s P/55 Land film, a black-and-white film that, after being exposed, could be peeled apart to yield both a photographic negative and a small positive image. In other words, the film produced both the negative that was used to print this image and a tiny, nearly instant photograph, surrounded on all sides by a white border—something we know today as simply a “Polaroid.”

In addition to Ansel’s use of this exciting new development in photographic technology, this image is remarkable for its compositional quality. Though numerous photographs in Ansel’s catalog feature reflections, very few feature a reflection as the focal point of the composition. Seen through the rippling waters of the Merced, the cliffs by Bridalveil Fall provide an ominous, inky-black contrast to the bright sun dazzling the river. It’s perhaps no mistake that Ansel chose to use Polaroid’s P/55 film for this image, as it aptly conveys the duality of the positive and negative images captured by exposing the peel-apart film. The composition is a strangely intimate one, as its closeness to the water’s surface makes it easy to imagine Ansel kneeling or crawling along the stones of the riverbank in his effort to make the perfect shot.

Throughout his life, Ansel Adams viewed his photography as a vessel for his conservationist efforts. He deeply loved the experience of being among America’s wild places, and used the sales of his photography to inspire a nation and the world to feel the same. Looking at the reflection of the cliffs depicted in this image, it’s hard not to wonder if Ansel saw his work as a form of reflection—an effort to capture and magnify the majesty of the wilderness he so loved. Perhaps this image was a sort of self-portrait, produced in Ansel’s own unique way, an image of the self from a man whose spirit was at home among the mountains and rivers of Yosemite Valley.

What’s Included

  • Handmade Gelatin Silver Photograph by Ansel Adams
  • Certificate of Authenticity
  • Purchase Consultation (if desired)
  • Ships mounted and matted, ready to frame
  • Fast Shipping Turnaround
  • Expert Fine Art Packaging
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee (or full refund within 30 days)

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