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Iconic Panorama of San Francisco

(SAN FRANCISCO.) Muybridge, Eadweard. Panorama of San Francisco from California St. Hill

San Francisco: Morse’s Gallery, 1877

11 albumen prints (overall 7 ¼ x 84 inches), mounted on 11 panels, linen-backed and folding, original cloth boards gilt, rebacked. The center panel bears a printed title, photographer’s credit, and publisher information. Some staining. Fine custom half morocco case.  The images in very good condition.

“One of the supreme conceptual and technical achievements in the history of architectural photography.” – David Harris

This iconic, 7-foot long image of San Francisco is one of the landmarks of 19th-century American photography. “The photographs show the extraordinary extent of a city that had come into existence a mere thirty years before and which would be destroyed by earthquake and subsequent fires thirty years later” (Getty Museum Journal). Seamlessly combining a series of eleven photographs, Muybridge created a 360 degree view of the city, producing what Rebecca Solnit calls “an impossible sight, a vision of the city in all directions, a transformation of a circular space into a linear photograph.”

Eadweard Muybridge was one of the greatest photographic innovators of the 19th century. He is famous for his views of San Francisco and the American West and for his images of people, horses, and other animals in motion. Muybridge emigrated from England to San Francisco in the 1850s, and he soon became one of the foremost practitioners of the new art of large-format photography. One of his greatest early achievements was this magnificent panoramic view of San Francisco in the late 1870s made from the top of California Street Hill.

Muybridge took these photographs from the tower of the unfinished California Street Hill (now known as Nob Hill) residence of railroad magnate Mark Hopkins. The shadows indicate that the photographs were made in June or July 1877 over the course of about five hours. Despite the view’s vast scope, it presents minute details of city life such as hanging laundry, ships in the harbor, and shop signs. Alcatraz and Telegraph Hill are clearly visible, and the countless houses, hotels, and businesses include many buildings destroyed in the fire of 1906.

This panoramic view is among the greatest of all San Francisco photographs and a high point in the photographic representation of the American West.