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Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams Signed Rare Limited Edition Poster “Moonrise” - 1981

Extremely scarce signed Ansel Adams limited edition, deluxe lithographic poster for “Images 1923-1974. Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1981.” Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico is quite possibly Adams’s best-known photograph, and surely the most iconic of his work. Depicting a rural cemetery in the foreground with gravestones illuminated by the setting sun. a waxing moon hovers above a bank of clouds that meet mountains framing the horizon.

Ours is actually one of the rare, large photographic posters (24 by 36 inches), signed by the eminent photographer at the bottom. The original poster is completely intact, but it has been discretely fan-folded between the image and the signature by a previous owner, and professionally mounted, French matted, and conservation framed in black lacquer—measuring 28″ x 30″ overall—in order to direct visual focus on the striking beauty of the image without the “posterized” effect. Still, it remains one of only 350 such litho posters published in the early 1980s in the first set of a 3-image series that Adams signed just prior to his death.

One of the original images with the very finest tonal qualities, believed to be less than ten in existence, recently sold at auction for $360,000. “Lesser” prints sell in the range of $50,000. According to an AP report:

“The story associated with the picture is the stuff of legend. After a discouraging day in the field with his son and an assistant, Adams was driving home, when he “saw an extraordinary situation—an inevitable photograph! I almost ditched the car and rushed to set up my 8 x 10 inch view camera…but I could not find my exposure meter! The situation was desperate: the low sun was trailing the edge of clouds in the west, and shadow would seem to dim the white crosses.” Adams had pre-visualized the image, managing to capture the picture before the sun set and light irrevocably shifted.”

These special posters were published by the New York Graphic Society as a way to market a fine, signed Ansel Adams product that was affordable for most people. Our understanding is that it was quite a difficult project with numerous delays, changes and multiple printings. The final printed image was intended to be almost indistinguishable from an original photograph and was printed on a heavy stock of paper, which is easily seen in this beautifully framed example.

Ansel Adams Moonrise Poster Signed
Example of original poster before framing