Ansel Adams Murals

In Wells Fargo Banking Stores

Ansel Adams (1902-1984) was one of America’s best known photographers. His work captured the beauty and majesty of nature. More than just documentary photography, Adams’ artistic genius came from subject, composition, colored lens filters, and exacting printing technique.

Wells Fargo and American Trust Company, two pioneer California banks, merged in 1960. In 1954, six years before the merger, American Trust marked its centennial. What better way to celebrate than to commission famed photographer Ansel Adams to capture the essence of his home state, and the land that American Trust had served for a century?

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The result was The Pageant of History in Northern California, an award-winning volume of 57 Adams prints with historical text by Nancy Newhall. The book documented the history and natural landscape of Northern California, and presented a panorama of California in the 1950s. Adams described the style of the book as a personal approach, “one of dignity and poetic depth of feeling and form.”

The Pageant of History in Northern California is out of print. Single copies can be found at rare book dealers.

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American Trust Co. planned to display Adams’ photographs as murals in its banking offices. Adams kept all negatives and personally supervised photo reproduction, to make certain light and tonality would be perfect. He selected negatives himself for the photomurals, which would be as large as 8 x 10 feet.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, Gabriel Moulin Studios in San Francisco printed the photos from sepia-toned strips on continuous rolls of paper. Two or three strips were used for each mural; stapled lengthwise, careful mounting made seams invisible.

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Printed in editions of six, these murals became the largest Ansel Adams photographs ever created. Wells Fargo Bank is proud to care for and present these magnificent Ansel Adams photomurals, which have delighted viewers for the past half century.

Wells Fargo Banking Store locations with Ansel Adams murals