Photography West Gallery







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Ansel Adams

The Donohue Collection

 

Portrait of Phyllis Donohue by Ansel Adams, published in "The Print" (figure 7-10, page 158)

 

Phyllis Donohue, "one of the finest people I have known."

- Ansel Adams, An Autobiography

 

Phyllis Donohue was born in Surrey, England. She grew up in New Zealand and began work as a photographic production assistant while still a teenager. After moving to San Francisco in 1947, she married Frank Donohue. When he accepted a position as a librarian at the Naval Postgraduate School, the couple moved to Monterey in 1966. In 1968, Brett Weston hired Phyllis for one week as a spotting (retouching) assistant. When Weston’s project was complete, he was so impressed with her skills and attention to detail that he recommended Phyllis to Ansel Adams, who was also looking for a professional spotter. Phyllis would work for the next twenty years as Adams’ master spotter and production assistant.

Phyllis’ principle duties were spotting and print preparation, but she also assisted in the darkroom and observed Ansel was meticulous in refining each print - making test prints, while varying timing, filters and dodging patterns until he achieved the result he wanted. One task assigned to Phyllis was the cataloging of Ansel Adams negatives. The most famous negatives had been placed and dated, but there were countless others with no documentation. Phyllis assembled a diary log of all Adams’ travels over the decades, and then assigned dates and locations to every negative.

Over twenty years, Ansel Adams would often give Phyllis a photograph to mark special celebratory events like birthdays and holidays. He also inscribed personal dedications to Phyllis on many of the photographs. She treasured these photographs for their association with what was the happiest working period of her life, and protectively stored her twenty-two original photographs for thirty years until her death in the summer of 2018.

This memorial exhibition, in remembrance of Phyllis Donohue’s life and work, is the first time her personal collection of twenty-two Ansel Adams photographs has been shared with the public. The exhibition is open Thursday through Monday from 11am until 5pm: December 14, 2018 - February 1, 2019.

 

The Tetons and the Snake River, 1942

15 x 19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in 1979. Excellent condition.

SOLD

 

Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, 1927

15 x 19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in 1979. Excellent condition.

SOLD

 

Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite Valley, 1944

15 x 19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in the late 1970's. Excellent condition.

FOR SALE

 

Aspens, Northern New Mexico, 1958

20x24 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in the early 1970's. Excellent condition.

FOR SALE

 

White Branches, Mono Lake, 1950

15 x 19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in the early 1970s. Excellent condition.

SOLD

 

Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, 1944

15 x 19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in 1980. Excellent condition.

SOLD

 

Evening Clouds and Pool, Owen's Valley, 1962

15 x 19 inch vintage original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in the early 1970's. Excellent condition.

FOR SALE

 

Mount McKinley and Wonder Lake, Alaska, 1942

15 x 19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in the early 1970's. Excellent condition.

SOLD

 

White House Ruin, Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, 1942

15 x 19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in the early 1970s

SOLD

 

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941

15 x 19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in the late 1970's

SOLD

 

Leaves, Mt. Rainier, Washington, 1942

15 x 19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in 1978

NOT FOR SALE

 

Trees, Meadow, Snow, Yosemite National Park, 1965

15x19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in the late 1960's - early 1970's

SOLD

 

Oak Tree, Snowstorm, Yosemite, 1948

15 x 19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in the early 1970s

SOLD

 

Golden Gate Before the Bridge, San Francisco, 1932

15x19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in August 1978

NOT FOR SALE

 

Tenaya Creek, Dogwoods, Rain, Yosemite, 1946

15 x 19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in the early 1970's

SOLD

 

Maroon Bells, Colorado, 1951

15 x 19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in 1974

SOLD

 

Mt. Williamson, Sierra Nevada from Manzanar, 1944

15 x 19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in 1979

SOLD

 

Sand Dunes, Sunrise, Death Valley, 1948

15x19 inch original gelatin silver photograph handmade by Ansel Adams in December 1977

SOLD

 

Jim McHugh, Portrait of Ansel Adams signing Museum Set with Phyllis Donohue, 1981