Castle Gallery at The College of New RochelleCastle Gallery at The College of New Rochelle

Ansel Adams Museum Set

The 75 signed Ansel Adams photographs in The College of New Rochelle’s permanent collection make up the complete Museum Set, one of only 10 or so believed to be in existence.

Toward the end of his career, Adams sought to make his most important and favorite images available to a wide range of institutions. In 1978, Carmel, California, gallery owner Maggi Weston proposed the idea for what would become the Museum Set Edition of Fine Prints.

With Weston’s help, the photographer selected 75 images from more than 2,500 of his negatives. Collectors could purchase a complete set of 75 prints, or they could choose their own set of 25 that Adams would then print himself, with the condition that the prints eventually be donated to a museum or similar institution.

The College’s Museum Set was donated by Caryl Horwitz, who served as director of the Graduate Art Department for many years until her retirement in 1986. She gave the gift in memory of Sister Dorothy Ann Kelly, who served as president of The College of New Rochelle from 1972 to 1997 and died in 2009. Horwitz’s late husband, a succesful business executive and avid art collector, acquired the set in the early 1980s.


ansel_adamsAnsel Easton Adams was a photographer and environmentalist best known for his black-and-white photographs of the American West, particularly Yosemite National Park.

Born on February 20, 1902, in San Francisco, California, where a solitary childhood fostered his love of nature — he often took long walks on the dunes or along Lobos Creek.

That love bloomed when Adams first visited Yosemite National Park in 1916 with his family. His father bought him his first camera during that stay, and he would return the next year with better cameras and a tripod. He learned darkroom techniques and developed and sold his early photographs at Best’s Studio in Yosemite Valley, and would go on to marry Virginia Best, the daughter of the studio’s propietor, in 1928.

The Sierra Club played an important role in Adams’ early success. His first published photographs and writing appeared in the club’s 1922 Bulletin, and his first one-man exhibition was held in 1928 at the club’s San Francisco headquarters. For the rest of his life, he would be known as an artist and defender of Yosemite, and of the National Parks sysem and wilderness in general.

Adams’ career took off in the 1930s. He published his first book, “Taos Pueblo,” in 1930, and expanded his circle to include notable artists of the day, including Georgia O’Keeffe, John Marin, and Paul Strand. Adams held his first solo museum exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution in 1931, and opened his own art and photography gallery two years later. He also began to publish essays in photography magazines, and wrote an instructional book, “Making a Photograph,” in 1935.

Adams co-founded Group f/64 with Edward Weston and other photographers who espoused “pure or straight photography.”

In the 1940s, Adams organized photography shows, taught workshops, and continued to take iconic photographs, including “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.” It was an image he would reinterpret throughout his career, making over 1,300 unique prints.

Adams also created indelible images as a contractor for the Department of the Interior, taking photographs of parks, reservations, and other locations for its new building; and when he documented the life in Japanese internment camps in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

Appreciation of photography as an art form continued to grow, and came into its own in the 1960s, with Adams’ work appearing in large museums and galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art held a major retrospective exhibition in 1974, and Adams spent much of the decade curating and reprinting his photographs to satisfy the demands of art museums.

Adams died in April 1984 from cardiovascular disease. He was 82 years old.

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