William Henry Jackson (1843-1942). #50048. “The Grand Canon of Arizona.”
Detroit: Detroit Photographic Company, 1900. 20 x 34 (image). Mammoth plate Photochrom. Margins trimmed to image as originally issued. Mounted on original backing board, but stable. Minor wear along edges as to be expected, not affecting image. With original oak frame and original wavy glass. Else, very good condition. Scarce. A/A
William Henry Jackson was a prolific photographer in mid to late nineteenth century America. His affinity for the landscapes and scenery of the west, combined with his proficiency as a photographer, led to his extraordinary success at a time when such images were in strong demand, especially in the east. Based in Omaha for a while, operating his own photo studio, he did standard portrait work, as well as commissions for the expanding railroad companies, illustrating the scenery to be experienced along their routes. His first extensive photographic excursion west was to fill an order for stereoscopic views; later travels were supported by the U.S. Geological Survey. In this capacity he first visited Yellowstone where he created many of the seminal images of the remarkable area that was to become the first national park. Congress enacted legislation creating Yellowstone National Park largely based on Jackson’s photographs. He photographed much of the unspoiled west using his ingenuity to develop a succession of traveling darkrooms, necessities for working with the “wet” plates in use at the time. His hand colored photographs showing the development of the new transcontinental railways and those of Yellowstone for the U.S. Geological survey are classics in the history of American photography.
In 1898 ,Jackson moved to Detroit, along with his estimated inventory of over 10,000 negatives, to make chromolithographic reproductions through the Photochrom process. Developed in Switzerland, and licensed in North America solely to the Detroit Photographic Company (later the Detroit Publishing Company), the Photochrom process used black and white negatives to expose specially treated Bavarian limestone for printing one image in up to 14 life-like colors. Though the exact process is lost to us today, we are fortunate to have these striking early photographic images so sharply produced in color. Photochroms were mostly issued in postcard size, but they also produced larger views by using the mammoth glass plates measuring up to 18 x 22 inches which Jackson took with him out west. Far fewer of the mammoth photochrom prints were issued, so these large and colorful prints are very scarce today.