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ANSEL ADAMS PARENTS TINTYPE PHOTO RARE IMAGE c. 1894 UNIQUE For Sale


ANSEL ADAMS PARENTS TINTYPE PHOTO RARE IMAGE c. 1894 UNIQUE


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ANSEL ADAMS PARENTS TINTYPE PHOTO RARE IMAGE c. 1894 UNIQUE:
$5550.00

[SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, ANSEL ADAMS, 20TH CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHY]


THE EARLIEST KNOWN PHOTOGRAPH OF THE PARENTS OF ANSEL ADAMS

This simply composed 1/9th tintype features three individuals. Two men and a woman. The man seated at left is Ralph Selby. The man standing wearing a hat is Charles Hitchcock Adams. The woman seated at right is Olive Bray.


Of course, as those familiar with the biography of Ansel Adams may know, Charles and Olive would marry in 1896 and by 1902 give birth to their only son, Ansel who would go on to become the world’s most famous photographer.


However, this image includes Ralph Selby which is what makes this image quite interesting.


Ralph Selby who was born in Switzerland in 1862 had settled in Menlo Park by 1880. His Father Thomas Selby was Mayor of San Francisco between 1869 – 1871 after building a successful smelting company. Ralph married Olive Adams (Charles’ sister) in 1885. Following a trip to Europe planned with the hopes of helping his ailing wife, they both returned home and she died soon after. Selby was never the same. He became increasingly downtrodden and despondent.


We believe sometime between 1891 and 1894 the three people in this photo took this picture on some notable occasion. We do know that in 1891, Charles left for an overseas trip with his mother and Ralph Selby had a party for him in San Francisco. The ‘Cosmos Club’ where the party was held is only blocks from where Allen & Hay’s photography studio would have been.


Sadly, in February 1895 Ralph Selby mired in the throes of another bout of depression, wrote his brother a note, bought a revolver and walked out to the rocks along the San Francisco shore and killed himself.


Based on the date of the death of Ralph Selby, we can date this image roughly between 1891 – 1895 which is somewhat earlier than Anne Adams Helms (Ansel Adams’s daughter who was consulted re: details and attributions) thought Charles and Olive had met. Their letters to each other seem to begin about 1895 and continue up until their marriage in July 1896.


This photo was published in Mary Street Alinder’s most recent edition of Ansel Adams’ biography ‘Ansel Adams: A Biography’ (Bloomsbury 2014). It appears on page 130.


A rare and unique artifact of the true beginning for one of the giants in the history of the captured image.

Provenance:

This image was acquired (with a number of other related images) at public sale after having been donated to a charitable organization indirectly by Louise Adams Easton, aunt of world renowned landscape photographer, Ansel Adams.


Please contact us with questions or requests for additional information.



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