Eloquent Vistas: The Art of 19th Century American Landscape Photography
from the George Eastman House Collection
September 18 - December 9, 2007
The Museum's fall exhibit, Eloquent Vistas: The Art of Nineteenth- Century American Landscape Photography from the George Eastman House Collection featured 78 landscapes from the most renowned photographers of the era.
The American land, expansive and spectacular, has been a central force in shaping the American culture and forging the American character. From the Leatherstocking Tales of James Fenimore Cooper to the majestic landscapes of Ansel Adams, it has inspired the creativity of authors and artists and captured our collective imagination.
This exhibition of 78 nineteenth-century photographic landscapes reveals this imaginative spirit. Ranging from the 1850s to the end of the nineteenth century and from the East to the vast "new" West, the images include views of Niagara Falls, remnants of Civil War landscapes, and quiet eastern streams.
An expanding network of railroad lines provide us with images of graceful bridges and curving valleys lined with small industrial towns. Picturesque waterfalls are meant to draw people to growing towns in the upper Midwest. Images from the explorations of the spectacular West—Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, the Green River, and the Pacific Coast—are undeniably impressive.
Eloquent Vistas includes well known photographers of the era: Timothy H. O'Sullivan, Eadweard Muybridge, William Henry Jackson, John Moran, Carlton E. Watkins, William H. Rau, William Bell, and others. These men documented the land for government sponsored geological and geographical surveys, for the railroad companies, and for the tourist trade. Many accomplished their commissions in a truly artistic way, so that today, we appreciate their images more for their aesthetic value than for their topographical depiction of place. This exhibition celebrates their achievements.
Organized by the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Eloquent Vistas is drawn from their vast collection of prints and stereographs of nineteenth-century American landscapes.