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The Getty…the Whitney…and the Mather Attic. Herbert W. Gleason, American photographer

In 2017 The Huntington Library acquired a unique 10-volume edition of “The Life and Writings of John Muir” that incorporates 260 original photographs — most by Herbert W. Gleason, a nature photographer who inspired the work of Ansel Adams.


In 1916 Herbert Gleason was appointed Interior Department Inspector by Stephen Mather, Gleason’s close friend. Gleason made expeditions to photograph the country’s established

national parks and areas under consideration as possible parklands. Gleason’s 1927 Yellowstone images were used to protect the park from irrigation interests. Many were used by Stephen Mather in recommending creation of new parks.


Noted as well for his photography of Walden Pond, Herbert Gleason was born in Malden Massachusetts in 1855, graduated from Williams in 1877 and received a BD degree from Andover Theological Seminary. Leaving the ministry in 1888, he embarked on a lifelong pursuit and passion of documenting and preserving the American wilderness.


The Getty Museum now has eight of Gleason’s photographs. The Whitney Museum in New York has six. AND IN THE MATHER ATTIC is an album embossed: “Tuolumne Meadows Bertha F. Mather.” First page reads: “Photographs by Herbert W. Gleason Boston.” In the album are 42 photographs that convey the grandeur of the Meadows as captured by the pioneering photographer of the National Parks and presented to the daughter of the pioneering champion of those parks.


Images below:

Stephen T. Mather, Champlain MT, photograph by Herbert W. Gleason

Northeast Shore of Walden Pond 1908, Whitney Museum of American Art

Album in Mather Attic and two photographs from that album.


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