On Exhibit: June 26 — August 5
Opening Reception: Sunday, June 26, 1-4PM
An exhibit entitled “Yellowstone Engraved: The Art of William Henry Jackson, Thomas Moran & Others” will be on display at the WaterWorks Art Museum in Miles City from Sunday, June 26th to Friday, August 5th. The exhibit presents a rare collection of antique engravings which vividly portray Yellowstone National Park during its first three decades, from 1871 to 1902. As members of Ferdinand Hayden’s 1871 governmental exploratory party, William Henry Jackson and Thomas Moran were, respectively, Yellowstone’s first photographer and painter to render the park’s wondrous geysers, canyons, waterfalls, and mountains into visual imagery for which the American public clamored. Utilizing the engraving process for mass reproduction, their agents created derivative artwork from Jackson’s photos and Moran’s paintings that graced numerous books, magazines, and newspapers of the day, so that the world could see vicariously the acclaimed “Wonderland” of the American continent. One fourth of the exhibit features Yellowstone engravings by other skillful artists of lesser renown, who were likewise drawn to this icon of Americanism.
The exhibit draws from the Yellowstone Collection of Lee Silliman, an avid landscape photographer of Yellowstone National Park and student of its written and visual history. “Yellowstone Engraved” consists of 108 images that are mounted into 57 cherry frames. Many of the vintage engravings are handsomely hand-tinted, because color reproduction technologies were just emerging in the late nineteenth century. The show is annotated with quotations drawn from the historical literature, and which set the historical context. “Yellowstone Engraved” was selected by the Montana Art Gallery Director’s Association for a subsidized state tour in 2004. A few of the exhibit’s images are extremely rare, such as a 1902 panoramic Jackson photochrom (a stunningly vivid photo-engraving), an 1872 illustrated German map, and an 1885 Russian chromolithograph.
An important subtext to this exhibit is the intertwining of photography and art in the nineteenth century. Painters provided the impetus to the invention of photography, and freely employed photographs as adjunct to their field sketches. Jackson the photographer and Moran the painter were literally artistic partners during their 1871 foray into the Yellowstone wilderness with Hayden, for Moran assisted Jackson in the selection of views, while Jackson gave many photographs to Moran for reference material. Their symbiotic confluence in Yellowstone left us an artistic legacy of great value.
For more information please call 406-234-0635.