Dams and Lake, Nevada County, California, Distant View

Carleton Watkinsabout 1871

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

As in many of Carleton Watkins's landscape photographs, a large, bold foreground element and a delicately atmospheric background distinguish this image of the English Dam. One of the earliest civil engineering feats on the West Coast, the dam consisted of a 114-foot-tall reservoir constructed from a network of interlocking timber boxes filled with stones. As water filled the area enclosed by the dam, the trees were flooded, leaving white skeletal trunks projecting from the newly formed lake. While documenting the effect of humankind on nature, Watkins's photograph also conveys a spare and unusual beauty with which he seemed to particularly identify.

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  • Title: Dams and Lake, Nevada County, California, Distant View
  • Creator: Carleton Watkins
  • Date: about 1871
  • Location Created: Nevada, United States
  • Physical Dimensions: 40.2 x 54.3 cm (15 13/16 x 21 3/8 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Albumen silver print
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Object Type: Print
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 89.XM.61.3
  • Inscription: (Recto, mount) inscribed in pencil, at bottom center edge, dealer's inventory number: "CEW.158X" (Verso, mount) inscribed in pencil, at lower right corner: 5 [encircled]"
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Photographs
  • Culture: American
  • Classification: Photographs