Frozen Lake and Cliffs, Sierra Nevada, California

Accession Number

Frozen Lake and Cliffs, Sierra Nevada, California

Ansel Adams

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date
1932; printed 1980

Medium & Support
gelatin silver print on paper

14 5/8 in x 18 3/8 in (37.15 cm x 46.67 cm);22 in x 27 15/16 in (55.88 cm x 70.96 cm);26 1/8 in x 32 1/8 in (66.36 cm x 81.6 cm)

Credit Line
Gift in Honor of Mr. and Mrs. Harry H. Lunn, Sr.

Subject matter
This photograph depicts the far shore of a partially frozen lake and a towering cliffside rising above. Cracked, jagged and streaked with dark stains, the megalithic rock face contrasts with the smooth, glassy surface of the lake. Nestled in a recess in the cliff, a ripple-textured snowbank sits to the left of the image, a pile of fallen boulders strewn in its center.  The lake is partially frozen with a sheet of brilliant white ice, but the water is an obsidian-black, a faint glimmer of the cliff reflecting on its surface. The vertical tonal shapes of the cliffside’s stained surface contrast with the horizontal bands of snow, ice and water at the bottom of the image, forming a perpendicular tension to the composition. The site’s isolation, the winter stillness, and the shrouded backdrop of the cliff all create a sense of solemn and melancholic beauty.

Physical Description
This photograph depicts a large cliffside rising above the far shore of a partially frozen lake.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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lakes (bodies of water)
modern and contemporary art
natural landscapes
snow (precipitation)
stone (worked rock)

& Author Notes

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