This pastoral, picturesque scene of a sun-dappled oak grove is just one image of the UC Berkeley Campus to be found in the MVZ photographic archives. This particular view was taken from the north entrance at the old museum site by Harry Schelwald Swarth around 1910. Swarth (1878-1935) was a distinguished ornithologist who worked at Berkeley from 1908-1927 before hopping across the Bay to work at the California Academy of Sciences.
There are several images taken by Swarth of the grounds and storage rooms of the museum. This image (MVZ 339) is particularly evocative, with its careful attention to middle ground, recession into the backgrounded hills, and incursion of the oak branch in the right axis of the frame. The quality of the light and the westward angle of the shadows suggest that this photograph was taken in the first part of the day in bright sunlight. One can imagine strolling around the campus on a lovely Berkeley Sping-time morning in 1910, with the sun rising in the east over the newly completed Sather Gate.
–Tulasi Johnson is a senior in the History of Art Department at UC Berkeley, specializing in the Long 19th Century.