Timothy H. O'Sullivan, North America, 1840-1882, b. Ireland
Ancient Ruins in the Cañon de Chelle, New Mexico Territory, 1873
Image and sheet: 10 13/16 × 7 7/8 inches (27.46 × 20 cm) Mount: 18 3/4 × 15 3/8 inches (47.63 × 39.05 cm)
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.240
Location: Not on view
Timothy O’Sullivan was one of the greatest photographers of the 19th-century American West. After recording the Civil War (1861-65), O’Sullivan worked as the photographer for two of the most important government-sponsored surveys of the American West—those of Clarence King and Lt. George M. Wheeler—between 1867 and 1873. O’Sullivan was the first photographer to record such now-famous scenes as this one, a view of ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings. In an act of aesthetic brilliance, O’Sullivan used a vertical format to record an essentially horizontal subject—accentuating the rock cliff’s dramatic upward sweep.