Title: Cañon of the Colorado River, near the mouth of the San Juan River, Arizona
Dimensions: Image: 8 1/16 x 10 7/8 inches (20.5 x 27.6 cm);
Sheet: 15 7/8 x 19 15/16 inches (40.3 x 50.6 cm)
Gift, by exchange, of Arthur Penn, Class of 1956, and Marilyn Penn; Christopher Elliman; David Elliman; and Andrea Branch
Born in Ireland in 1842 (or possibly in New York to recently immigrated parents), Timothy O'Sullivan began commuting to Matthew Brady's Fulton Street Gallery while still in his teens. O'Sullivan recorded the horrors of the Civil War from Bull Run to Gettysburg, while managing Brady's Washington, D.C., studio. Because of a dispute over the attribution of photographs, O'Sullivan finished the war working with Alexander Gardner, another disenchanted former Brady employee. O'Sullivan worked as an expedition photographer for Clarence King's geological survey of the fortieth parallel in 1867. He accompanied Cmdr. Thomas Selfridge on a search for a route through the Isthmus of Darien (Panama) and joined the Wheeler surveys of the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon in 1871 and 1873. Returning to Washington, O'Sullivan continued to issue prints from his own negatives. Shortly after becoming the official photographer of the Treasury Department, O'Sullivan fell ill with tuberculosis and died at his father's home on Staten Island in 1882. Lt. George Wheeler's 1871 expedition up the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon to the mouth of the Diamond River was undertaken in flat-bottomed boats that required incredible strength to manipulate. O'Sullivan was up to the challenge, often helping to portage the boats, swimming in the swift current to save provisions, and scaling steep cliffs to find the perfect angle. The results of these efforts were some of the most monumental images of the American West ever recorded. (From “A Handbook of the Collection: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art," 1998)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.