William Henry Holmes, American artist, geologist, and archaeologist, was born Dec. 1, 1846. In 1872, he joined Ferdinand Hayden’s Survey of the Territories, which was exploring the Rocky Mountains and the Yellowstone area at the time. Holmes was initially employed as the survey artist, but when Hayden’s project was subsumed into the U.S. Geological Survey in 1879, Holmes continued on as both artist and geologist, and he quickly became one of the country’s finest geological illustrators. He did the artwork for Clarence Dutton’s Tertiary History of the Grand Canyon District (1882), which is one of the most stunning geology books ever published. Holmes’ “Panorama from Point Sublime” is probably the most famous set of plates from this atlas; the first plate shows author Dutton and artist Holmes on the job in the foreground (see first image above); two more plates complete the panorama (second and third images above). When we mounted our Science Goes West exhibition in 2004, we had the first plate on display in the entry foyer to the Library; it is a full 30 inches across and made quite a spectacular invitation to the library and the exhibition. In the detail of the first plate (fourth image above), you can see Holmes with his sketch pad at the right, with Dutton looking over his shoulder.

Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City