Taken at extreme low tide when the transition from land to sea appears seamless, this photograph conveys the stillness encountered at a scarcely populated tourist destination. The horse and carriage on the sand almost disappear against the shadowy background of a rock face, while spectators on the Cliff House balcony observe from above. Watkins repeatedly photographed the Cliff House at Ocean Beach on the northwest edge of San Francisco's peninsula. This structure, the first of San Francisco's four Cliff Houses, burned down on Christmas Day in 1894. Since then, three additional buildings, all named the Cliff House, have stood on this site overlooking the Pacific Ocean.


  • Title: [The Cliff House from the Beach]
  • Creator: Carleton Watkins
  • Date Created: 1868 - 1870
  • Location Created: San Francisco, California, United States
  • Physical Dimensions: 40 × 52.4 cm (15 3/4 × 20 5/8 in.)
  • Type: Print
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Albumen silver print
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 85.XM.242.1
  • Culture: American
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Carleton Watkins (American, 1829 - 1916)
  • Classification: Photographs (Visual Works)

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