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A black and white landscape photograph of a colossal rock wall with structures built into the face.

A black and white landscape photograph with a sepia tone. Scrub vegetation dots the foreground giving way to broken-down structures at the base of a colossal rock wall. Further up the wall more complete structures are built into a crevice in the rock face. Men stand on the tops of both sets of structures, with one pulling a rope that is attached to the upper structures. Many vertical striations run down the upper portion of the rock wall. Below the upper structures, a painting of a white figure can be seen on the rock face.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Timothy H. O'Sullivan, American (New York, New York 1840 - 1882 Staten Island, New York)
Ancient Ruins in the Cañon de Chelle, N.M. In a niche 50 feet above present cañon bed.
Other Titles
Series/Book Title: Geo. M. Wheeler Geographical Survey West of the 100th Meridian, 1873, no. 10
Work Type
Creation Place: North America, United States, New Mexico
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Albumen silver print
image: 27.5 x 20.1 cm (10 13/16 x 7 15/16 in.)
sheet: 52 x 40.3 cm (20 1/2 x 15 7/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • stamp: recto, top edge, pre-printed mount: Geographical & Geological Explorations & Surveys West of the 100th Meridian. Expedition of 1873 - Lieut. Geo. M. Wheeler, Corps of Engineers, Commanding
  • stamp: recto, on mount below image, pre-printed mount: T.H. O'Sullivan, Phot. No. 10 [over] ANCIENT RUINS IN THE CANON DE CHELLE, N.M. [over] In a niche 50 feet above present Cañon bed.
  • stamp: recto, top center, pre-printed mount: WAR DEPARTMENT [over] CORPS OF ENGINEERS. U.S. ARMY.
  • inscription: recto, top center, graphite: Sci2600.290

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Transfer from the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Transferred from the Museum of Comparative Zoology Library, Gift of the U.S. War Department, 1877
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Robin Kelsey, Viewing the Archive: Timothy O'Sullivan's Photographs for the Wheeler Survey, 1871-74, The Art Bulletin (December 2003), vol. 85, no. 4: 702-723, p. 703, fig. 1

Exhibition History

  • HAA 10 Survey Course (S421): The Western Tradition: Art Since the Renaissance (Fall 08 Rotation 1), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/13/2008 - 10/19/2008
  • Re-View: S426A (Large Niche) #1: CB30 Photography and Society & HAA172w American Art and Modernity, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 09/04/2009 - 10/04/2009
  • HAA 10 Survey Course (S421): The Western Tradition: Art Since the Renaissance (Fall 10 Rotation 3), Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 11/12/2010 - 01/15/2011
  • 32Q: 2100 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 03/04/2015

Subjects and Contexts

  • Collection Highlights
  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at