Acclaimed in the nineteenth century as "the world’s most famous landscape photographer," William Henry Jackson and his camera presided over the mapping, bounding, and settling of the American West and the larger American landscape. In this lavishly illustrated study, Peter B. Hales investigates the conversion of America’s landscape from myth to scenery and Jackson’s effect on this cultural transformation.
In this book Peter B. Hales examines the ways Americans viewed their land, and the ways they acted on their beliefs. A study of how an individual affects and was affected by his culture, this is an engrossing story of the contradictions of American culture, the myths that encompass it and give it meaning, and their transformation over a century.
William Henry Jackson himself is rich material for an authoritative study. Not simply a chronicler, he immersed himself and his photographs in the processes of change that swept America from the 1840s until the 1940s. Official photographer to the Hayden Survey of the American West, early explorer of Yellowstone, and celebrant of the Colorado Rockies, Jackson was instrumental in the mass-marketing of landscape photography at the beginning of the twentieth century. Retired in the 1920s, he was rediscovered by the American Scene enthusiasts of the thirties, and found another career as painter of nostalgic images of America’s Golden Age of frontier freedom.
Illustrated with nearly two hundred reproductions of Jackson’s photographs, this work makes major contributions to our understanding of photography, of the American land, and of American culture in its broadest, richest sense.