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Open Content Program

The Birmingham Museum of art makes available digital images of works in the Museum’s collection believed to be in the public domain. Images are available free of charge for any use, commercial or non-commercial. Users do not need to contact the Museum for authorization to use these images. They are available through the Online Collection at See detailed instructions for specific work types below.

Identifying Open Content Images

The mission of the Birmingham Museum of Art is to spark the creativity, imagination, and liveliness of Birmingham by connecting all its citizens to the experience, meaning, and joy of art. The Museum understands that by sharing images of works online without restrictions, the BMA collection becomes more accessible to a larger audience.

For objects with images the rights status is displayed in the “credit line” section of the object information. The rights status or rights holder will be indicated. If the work is in the public domain and/or the image may be downloaded, the download icon will appear in the bottom right corner of the image area. To search the collection click here.

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Please use the following source credit when reproducing an Open Content image: Courtesy Birmingham Museum of Art, followed by the credit line provided in the object description.

Although there are no restrictions or conditions of the use of an Open Content image, the BMA would appreciate a gratis copy of any scholarly publication(s) in which the images are reproduced in order to maintain collection bibliography. Copies may be sent to the attention of:

Open Content Program
Digital Media Department
The Birmingham Museum of Art
2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd
Birmingham, AL 35203


  • If an image is not available under Open Content it may be because the work is still under copyright, the work is not owned by the museum, or the work has not yet been photographed to BMA standards.
  • Request Images: If an image of a work is not available online or is under copyright, you may submit a request through our online request form. You may also request files in additional sizes or formats. A fee will be charged for this service.
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Grand Canyon, Yellowstone River, Wyoming

William Louis Sonntag, Sr.


A native of Pennsylvania, William Louis Sonntag spent his formative years as an artist in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became regarded as the city’s most eminent landscape painter. In 1853, Sonntag made the first of several trips to Europe, traveling to Florence, Italy, with his friend and colleague, the landscape painter Robert Scott Duncanson. In 1856, Sonntag settled permanently in New York, where he flourished as a painter of romantic Hudson River landscapes and Italian scenes.

In 1886, Sonntag painted this large vertical panorama of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, a majestic gorge located on the Yellowstone River in the Yellowstone National Park. Despite its detailed appearance, there is no evidence that Sonntag ever visited Yellowstone. The composition is based on an 1885 photograph of the canyon taken by Frank Jay Haynes (1853-1921), who established a studio and gallery in Yellowstone in 1884, and became the park’s official photographer. Since Hayne’s photograph was black and white, the coloration of Sonntag’s painting might have been based on Thomas Moran’s 1871 watercolor sketch of the canyon, which was reproduced as a chromolithograph in an album entitled The Yellowstone National Park, published in 1876.