Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Image of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico 7940



Ansel Adams


Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico

Creation Date



20th century


13 1/2 in. x 10 1/2 in. (34.29 cm. x 26.67 cm.)

Object Type


Creation Place

North American, American

Medium and Support

gelatin silver print

Credit Line

Gift of David P. Becker, Class of 1970


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number

This iconic photograph romanticizes the Western landscape at a turning point in American history. Commissioned by the United States Department of the Interior to produce photographs of the American West, Ansel Adams depicted a sleepy town in New Mexico at twilight. The photograph is separated into three distinct horizontal sections—the black sky, the white clouds, and snow-clad Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The old adobes and distant church speak to the romantic Hispanic legacy of the old Southwest. The sky dominates the frame, with the nearly full moon piercing the black sky above the town. Compared to his earlier photographs of Depression Era migrants, filled with political urgency, in Moonrise Adams creates a grander scene, filled with nature’s splendor and purity. In its simplicity, this image provides a possible answer to the question “what are we fighting for?” for a nation on the eve of war.

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