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Carleton Watkins was a pioneering photographer of the American West. His mammoth photos of the grandeurs of the Yosemite Valley are among his best and most important work. They are landmark images created with fragile and unwieldy equipment in challenging terrain.

Frederick and Julia Billings owned a portfolio of Watkins’ Yosemite views, of which this view of Half Dome was a prized example, framed for home display. They also owned a portfolio of views by Watkins of the New Almaden quicksilver mine near San José, which was one of Frederick Billings’ business interests.

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