Early California photographs at the Huntington

ANTIQUES Staff

ANTIQUES Staff Art, Culture

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens has made two exciting purchases that enhance its unparalleled ability to tell the story of Southern California as it was transformed from vast rural ranchlands into an international symbol of the good life. The newly acquired Ernest Marquez Collection of photographs, with prints from the 1870s to about 1950, includes rare views of Los Angeles as well of early Santa Monica, which, as the Southern Pacific Railroad was on the brink of connecting Los Angeles to the rest of the nation in the mid-1870s, welcomed city dwellers to its beachside tent cities. Photographers opened studios catering to the incipient tourist trade, and the illustrious San Francisco photographer Carleton E. Watkins visited in 1877 and 1880. The collection includes his images as well as ones by such other early photographers as William M. Godfrey, Francis Parker, and Hayward and Muzzall. Amassed over a half a century by a descendant of Mexican land grantees who owned the six thousand-acre Rancho Boca de Santa Monica-or present-day Rustic and Santa Monica Canyons, Pacific Palisades, and portions of the city of Santa Monica-the archives constitute the Huntington’s largest purchase of photographs since 1939.  

  • E.G. Morrison (ca. 1827-1888), Roller Coaster at the Arcadia Hotel, Santa Monica, late 1880s. Albumen print, Ernest Marquez Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. 

  • E.G. Morrison (ca. 1827-1888), Visitors to Santa Monica Beach, ca. 1880s. Albumen print, Ernest Marquez Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. 

  • E.G. Morrison (ca. 1827-1888), Southern Pacific Railroad entering Santa Monica, 1878. Albumen print, Ernest Marquez Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

  • Carleton Watkins (1829-1916), Beach and Bathing House at Santa Monica, ca. 1877. Albumen print,   Ernest Marquez Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. 

  • Photographic postcard, 3 Hours Surf Fishing at Redondo, n.d. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. 

  • Photographic postcard, Three Men Posing in Front of Amusement Pier Backdrop, Venice, California, n.d. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. 

  • Pierce and Blanchard, Roman Catholic Cathedral [St. Vibiana’s], Main St., Los Angeles, ca. 1895, albumen print. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

  • H. F. Rile (ca. 1860-1949), Santa Monica Bathing Scene, ca. 1900, gelatin silver print. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. 

  • I. W. Taber (1830-1912), Los Angeles, Cal., The Chinese Quarter, ca. 1892, albumen print. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. 

  • Lemuel S. Ellis (active late 19th century), Westlake Park, Los Angeles, ca. 1890s, albumen print. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. 

Supplementing the acquisition, the Huntington has also acquired nearly four hundred rare pamphlets, maps, and ephemera related to the early history and development of the city and county of Santa Barbara and the adjacent counties of San Luis Obispo and Ventura from 1867 to 1927. The material was selected from the collection of Clifton F. Smith (1920-1999), author of Flora of Santa Barbara who had been the librarian at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. 

Above: Back cover of brochure, Santa Monica and Ocean Park Chamber of Commerce, The Famous Resorts of Southern California, n.d. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens