John Mix Stanley
Kettle Falls, Columbia River, c.1860
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lithograph with color wood engraving, Sarony, Major & Knapp Lith.
5.75 x 8.75 in
In the mid-nineteenth century, the United States government set out to survey and document its newly acquired lands and territories west of the Mississippi. The goals of these surveys were manifold: to produce topographical maps, to document flora and fauna, and to document natural resources to build the emerging US economy. These surveys, and the images from them, also functioned to build the new sense of American identity with the landscape, condensing vistas into the 'picturesque' tradition of European image making. Thus, the entire span of US territory could be seen as a single, cohesive whole. This lithograph comes from one of six surveys commissioned by the Army's Topographic Bureau in 1853, which sought to find the best route to construct a transcontinental railroad. The result was a thirteen-volume report including maps, lithographs, and technical data entitled 'Explorations and Surveys to ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a Railroad from the Mississippi river to the Pacific Ocean.' When it came to depicting the Columbia River, as seen in the present print, Stanley chose to depict the river's characteristic rock formations and choppy waters. The figures in the image give the viewer a sense of the vase scale of the imposing landscape. Other explorers that reached the site years before the Pacific Railroad Survey, such as Lewis and Clark, observed this scene with wonder and awe – and it is clear Stanley felt the same way. 5.75 x 8.75 inches, image 6.5 x 9.25 inches, stone 13.25 x 16.25 inches, frame Artist 'Stanley Del.' lower left Entitled 'Kettle Falls, Columbia River' lower center margin Publisher 'Sarony, Major & Knapp. Lith.s 449 Broadway N.Y.' lower right Inscribed 'U.S.P.R.R. EXP. & SURVEYS — 47th & 49th PARALLELS' upper left Inscribed 'GENERAL REPORT — PLATE XLVII' upper right Framed to conservation standards using 100 percent rag matting and Museum Glass to inhibit fading; housed in a brass-surface aluminium moulding. Print in overall good condition; wrinkles in upper margin and upper right corner; frame in excellent condition.