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2006 Catalog > William Henry Holmes, Grand Canyon at the Foot of Toroweap

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57. William Henry Holmes. “The Grand Cañon at the Foot of Toroweap—Looking East” (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1882). Published in Atlas to Accompany the Monograph on the Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District by Clarence E. Dutton. Double-page chromolithographed plate. Sheet size: 20 x 32 3/4". Fine.

Price: SOLD.

This beautiful plate from the famous Dutton atlas illustrates the view from the Toroweap Overlook on the northwest rim of the Grand Canyon in the remote Arizona Strip. The Kanab Plateau rises sharply to the east, while the volcanic Pine / Uinkaret Mountains form the western margin of Toroweap Valley. The illustration is by the geologist / artist William H. Holmes, described by William Goetzmann as “the greatest artist-topographer and man of many talents that the West ever produced. His artistic technique was like no other’s. He could sketch panoramas of twisted mountain ranges, sloping monoclines, escarpments, plateaus, canyons, fault blocks, and grassy meadows that accurately depicted hundreds of miles of terrain. They were better than maps and better than photographs because he could get details of stratigraphy that light and shadow obscured from the camera. His illustrations for Dutton’s Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District are masterpieces of realism and draftsmanship as well as feats of imaginative observation.” Holmes was a self-taught ethnologist and anthropologist who rose to the top of his profession as director of the Bureau of American Ethnology, a participant in pioneering expeditions to the Mayan ruins of Mexico, and the first director of the Field Museum in Chicago. He also later served as the first director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. He studied art as a young man and his talent led to his inclusion as a panoramic artist on Hayden’s Great Survey expedition to Yellowstone. Holmes became a competent geologist, a fact that distinguishes his illustrations for the Dutton atlas. The plate provides a superb example of Holmes’s work on the Grand Canyon, an achievement recognized by Wallace Stegner as “the highest point to which geological or topographical illustration ever reached in this country.”

Refs.: “The Robert and Margaret A. Ames Collection of Illustrated Books,” Brown University at www.brown.edu; William Goetzmann, Exploration and Empire; Phillips, Atlases, 1471.

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