The Mammoth Tree Grove, Calaveras County California. Lapham & Haynes prop.rs Sketched from nature by T. A. Ayres, 1855. Printed by Britton & Rey. Drawn on stone by Kuchel & Dresel, 176 Clay S.T S. F. Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by T. A. Ayres, in the Clerk's Office of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Cal. THOMAS A. AYRES.

The Mammoth Tree Grove, Calaveras County California. Lapham & Haynes prop.rs Sketched from nature by T. A. Ayres, 1855. Printed by Britton & Rey. Drawn on stone by Kuchel & Dresel, 176 Clay S.T S. F. Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by T. A. Ayres, in the Clerk's Office of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Cal. S[an] F[rancisco]: Printed by Britton & Rey, 1855. Lithograph. 46 x 65 cm, eight views with brief printed text. First printing with proprietors given as Lapham & Haynes. Thomas A. Ayres arrived by ship at San Francisco on August 8, 1849. Little is recorded about his first year activities in California, but it is believed that he was in the Sierra Nevada mining region. In 1850 he returned to San Francisco with sketches of the mining district. During the next few years he traveled to different parts of the state to draw and paint. According to Harry T. Peters, California on Stone (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1935), the California "drawings, made on the spot, have artistic merit and place Ayres in the front rank of the draftsmen of the period." In 1855 James Mason Hutchings asked the artist to accompany him on his first trip to Yosemite Valley. The small party, Hutchings, Ayres, and two others, arrived in the valley in June 1855 and spent five days there. Ayres spent most of his time making sketches with carbon pencil or black crayon and the group left the valley with six drawings, the first pictorial representation of Yosemite. In October 1855, one of these drawings was published by Hutchings as a lithograph titled The Yo-Hamite Falls. It was the first published view of Yosemite Valley to reach the general public. In 1859 Hutchings and Rosenfield issued General View of the Great Yo-Semite Valley, Mariposa County, California, the second and last of the large separately published lithograph views of the valley based on Ayres' 1855 Yosemite drawings. A number of illustrations in Hutchings' California Magazine; (1856-1861) were based on Ayres' drawings, including some made in the North Calaveras Grove of giant sequoia and a few done in Yosemite Valley during his first visit. From his Yosemite sketches Ayres painted a panorama of the "Yosemite Valley and Falls" which he exhibited in 1855 at McNulty's Hall in Sacramento. In 1856 Ayres returned to Yosemite via Coulterville and made additional pencil drawings of the valley. The following year these drawings were exhibited at the Art Union in New York. Ayres' work was brought to the attention of Harper and Brothers who engaged him to illustrate a series of articles on Southern California. In April 1858, while sailing from San Pedro, California to San Francisco on the schooner "Laura Bevan," Ayres drowned when the ship and all on board were lost in a storm near Point Dume. For biographical sketches of Ayres see Elizabeth H. Godfrey, "Thumbnail Sketches of Yosemite Artists: Thomas A. Ayres," Yosemite Nature Notes, 23 (February 1944), 22-25 and Jeanne Van Norstrand, "Thomas A. Ayres: Artist-Argonaut of California," California Historical Society Quarterly, 20 September 1941), 275-79. For an account of his 1855 trip to Yosemite Valley see Emil Ernst, "Yosemite's First Tourists," Yosemite Nature Notes, 34 (June 1955), [73]-79. Later lithographs of the valley were executed by many artists, including Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Louis Prang, and Thomas Hill. Peters, California on Stone (1935) plate 74 (first printing). There is some tanning and staining, but overall the print is very good, better than most examples we have seen. We would be happy to have this de-acidified and cleaned should a potential buyer wish this work to be undertaken. (#154611).

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