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George Catlin painting a Chief

An Analytic Eye
Part III of III

William H. Emory. Report on the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey.... Washington, 1857-59.

Giant cactus

Paulus Roetter, "View Along the Gila (Cereus Giganteus)." (Steel engraving)

The three volumes of the Mexican Boundary Survey were published after the Railroad Surveys, although most of the field work preceded them. In both publications the illustrations ranged from precise scientific recording to images tinged with romanticism. In this plate illustrating George Engelmann's section on cactus of the border region, the St. Louis artist Paulus Roetter produces a view of Saguro cactus which demonstrates the dichotomy. One one hand Roetter, who had no field experience in the Southwest, has rendered an accurate depiction of the life cycle of the giant cactus. But Roetter was unable to restrain himself from adding an unlikely Arcadian touch, showing Indians lounging on grassy ground around the cacti.

Clarence King, et. al. Report of the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel Made by Order of the Secretary of War.... Washington, 1870-80.

Wasatch Limestone Cliffs

"Wahsatch Limestone Cliffs - Provo Canon - Wahsatch Range." (Albertype)

Exact depiction was sometimes at odds with the media available for illustration. The published accounts of the King Survey appeared at a time when a number of new techniques in printing were available, and variety of different processes were incorporated into the seven volumes and two atlases of the report. The chromolithographs of Julius Bien contrast markedly with the photomechanical images used elsewhere in the reports, providing a much more colorful but less precise view of the country; they are more evocations of landscape than illustrations of geology On the other hand, the albertype process provided an effective if expensive method of distributing the fine detail captured by the expedition's photographers. The differing forms of illustration perhaps mirror the dichotomy in King's own character between romantic and scientist.

Ferdinand V. Hayden. Sun Pictures of Rocky Mountain Scenery, with a Description of the Geographical and Geological Features.... New York, 1870.

Serrated rocks in Weber Canon

A.J. Russell, "Serrated Rocks or Devils Slide...Weber Canon, Utah." (Albumen photograph)

Hayden intended his book to provide a geological cross-section of North America from eastern Wyoming to the Great Salt Lake. He illustrated it with photographs "that the book may be used as a guide by those who will avail themselves of the grand opportunities for geological study, which a trip across the continent affords to every intelligent mind." Although he never rivaled John McPhee, Hayden was correct in seeing that the theories of Lyell, radical ideas only a generation before, had become popular knowledge, easily and literally viewed through photographs. All of the images in the book are reduced versions of Russell's photographs from his larger work, The Great West Illustrated.

E. O. Beaman, James Fennemore, and John K. Hillers. Photographic Album of John Wesley Powell's Second Expedition to Explore the Colorado River Valley. 1871-1874.




Powell was the first to bring photographers to the Colorado River, and this album presents a unique view of their work during the course of his expedition. The album begins with a photo by E. O. Beaman taken at Green River Station, Wyoming in May 1871. Beaman's work illustrates Powell's journey of 1871 down the Green River into Utah. Photographs by James Fennemore document the expedition's course in 1872 from Dirty Devil River through Glen Canyon, Nevada, while images by John Hillers cover the final work of the expedition through central Utah and the Grand Canyon. In addition to many topographic studies, the album contains numerous views of Native Americans. The photographs made during the expedition were used and re-used for the next quarter century to illustrate various accounts of the expedition. Whether as albumen prints, photomechanical reproductions, engravings, or lithographs, the images created by Beaman, Fennemore, and Hillers became archetypes of American culture.

The Sublime and the Picturesque
The Spirit of Place
Encountering Native Americans
Customs of the Country
Valor and Endurance

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