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  • 10/17/2004



Germany, Hudson River School
(born 1830 - died 1902)

Recognized as the foremost painter of the American frontier during the nineteenth-century, Albert Bierstadt was born in Solingen, Germany, in 1830.  At the age of two, he and his family emigrated to the United States, settling in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  Nothing is known of his early art training; however, he might possibly have been influenced by local landscape painters and daguerreotypists.  By the time he was twenty, he was supporting himself by teaching "monochromatic" painting and his work was beginning to attract the attention of New Bedford collectors.

In 1853, Bierstadt traveled to Düsseldorf in order to broaden his art education.  It was there that he associated with such American ar as Worthington Whittredge and Carl Wimar, all of whom frequently gathered in the studio of the German-American history painter, Emanuel Leutze. 

 During this period, he was introduced to the work of Carl Friedrich Lessing and Andreas Aachenbach, contemporary German painters widely admired for their heroic, highly finished landscape compositions.  Bierstadt quickly absorbed these stylistic conventions, eventually becoming the leading American representative of the Düsseldorf style.

While abroad, Bierstadt traveled along the Rhine, in theAlps and in Italy, often in the company of Whittredge, Sanford Gifford and William Stanley Haseltine. 

He returned to New Bedford in the autumn of 1857.  In the following year, he made the first of his many contributions to the annual exhibitions of the National Academy of Design. 

 In April of 1859, he joined the expedition along the Overland Trail, led by Colonel Frederick W. Lander, a trip that would soon give rise to the most productive and important phase of his career.  Armed with sketches and stereographs, he returned to New York City in the autumn of 1859, establishing his studio in the TenthStreetBuilding.  There he produced the first of the panoramic western landscapes that established his reputation on an international level and, during the mid-1860s, made him a rival of Frederick Church for the position of America's preeminent painter.

Indeed, because much of the continent remained still relatively unexplored at that time, Bierstadt"s monumental renderings of stately mountains and cascading waterfalls created romantic visions of wanderlust in the minds of Easterners. 

His first public exhibition of these works in 1860 was a resounding success. 

 Many critics deemed the viewing of his depictions as an almost "religious" experience, associating his mountain spires with majestic cathedrals, his luminous skies with the awesome power of God.  As pointed out by Barbara Novak, such works represent the attitude of the "transcendental mind," one in which "all matter was an extension of God." 1

Bierstadt was elected a full Academician of the National Academy of Design in 1860.  In the same year, he made several painting trips to the White Mountains as well as to the southern United States.  He made a second trip to the West in 1863 which was followed by another visit to Europe in 1867.  In 1871, he moved to California where he played an active role in the art life of San Francisco. In 1873, he returned to New York.

During the 1870s, Bierstadt executed a mural for the U.S. Capitol (1875) and in conjunction with the declining health of his wife, made the first of many trips to the Bahamas.  He made a third trip to Europe in 1883.  During 1889, he painted in both Alaska and British Columbia.  He continued to produce landscapes throughout the 1890s.  He also became involved in the promotion of various inventions, including his own designs for the improvement of railway cars.

Albert Bierstadt died in New York City in 1902.  Although his reputation during the 1890s suffered slightly from the attraction for French art, his impact upon the American landscape tradition of the nineteenth century remains strong.  His large-scale, panoramic landscapes, with their dramatic, almost sublime, light effects, coupled with the meticulous rendering of details, reflect the influences of both the contemporary landscape school ofDüsseldorf as well as the native Hudson River School aesthetic. 

His works can be found in major public and private collections throughout North America and Europe, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Wadsworth Atheneum, and the National Gallery of Canada.


The Shore of the Turquoise Sea

Oil on canvas
42.52 x 64.49 inches / 108 x 163.8 cm
Manoogian Collection

Bridal Veil Falls,Yosemite
(c.1871 – 1873)
Oil on canvas
36.14 x 26.38 inches / 91.8 x 67 cm
North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Yosemite Valley
Oil on canvas
37.99 x 60.00 inches / 96.5 x 152.4 cm
Collection of Joann and Julian Ganz, Jr.

Cho-Look: The Yosemite Fall
Oil on canvas
34.49 x 27.13 inches / 87.6 x 68.9 cm
TimkenArt Gallery, San Diego, USA

The Mountain Brook
Oil on canvas
44.02 x 35.98 inches / 111.8 x 91.4 cm
Collection of Gil Michaels

Sunlight and Shadow

Oil on canvas
41.50 x 35.51 inches / 105.4 x 90.2 cm
The Fine Arts Museums ofSan Francisco, California, USA

The Wolf River, Kansas

Oil on canvas
48.23 x 38.23 inches / 122.5 x 97.1 cm
TheDetroit Institute of Arts,Detroit, USA

Sunset over a Mountain Lake

Oil on paper mounted on canvas

14.02 x 19.49 inches / 35.6 x 49.5 cm
Private collection
Signed with the artist"s monogrammed signatureABierstadt, lower right

The Last of the Buffalo

Oil on canvas
71.26 x 119.25 inches / 181 x 302.9 cm
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA

The Great Trees, Mariposa Grove, California

Oil on canvas
118.15 x 59.25 inches / 300.1 x 150.5 cm
Private collection

The Domes of the Yosemite

Oil on canvas
115.98 x 180.00 inches / 294.6 x 457.2 cm
St. Johnsbury Athenaeum,St. Johnsbury, Vermont, USA

Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt Rosalie

Oil on canvas
82.99 x 142.24 inches / 210.8 x 361.3 cm
The Brooklyn Museum, USA

The Wetterhorn

Oil on canvas
48.11 x 37.99 inches / 122.2 x 96.5 cm
Collection of Dr Howard P. Diamond

The Old Mill

Oil on canvas
43.50 x 37.76 inches / 110.5 x 95.9 cm
Private collection

Seal Rock

Oil on canvas
30.00 x 44.02 inches / 76.2 x 111.8 cm
New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut, USA

Seal Rock, California

Oil on paper mounted on canvas
15.98 x 22.01 inches / 40.6 x 55.9 cm
The Warner Collection of Gulf States Paper Corporation, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

Passing Storm over theSierra Nevada

Oil on canvas
35.98 x 54.49 inches / 91.4 x 138.4 cm
The San Antonio Museum Association

Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast

Oil on canvas
52.52 x 82.01 inches / 133.4 x 208.3 cm
Private collection

The Oregon Trail

Oil on canvas
30.98 x 49.49 inches / 78.7 x 125.7 cm
The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio, USA

Indians Traveling NearFort Laramie

Oil on canvas
22.99 x 40.16 inches / 58.4 x 102 cm
Manoogian Collection

The Marina Piccola, Capri

Oil on canvas
42.01 x 72.01 inches / 106.7 x 182.9 cm
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, USA

Mount Hood, Oregon
Oil on canvas
72.01 x 120.00 inches / 182.9 x 304.8 cm
SouthwestMuseum, Los Angeles, California, USA

The Sierras near Lake Tahoe California
Oil on panel
15.51 x 20.98 inches / 39.4 x 53.3 cm
Berry-Hill Galleries,New York, USA

Wreck of the Ancon in Loring bayAlaska
Oil on paper mounted on panel
14.02 x 19.76 inches / 35.6 x 50.2 cm
Museum ofFine Arts, Boston, USA

Cathedral Rock, Yosemite Valley, California
Oil on paper

13.86x19.13 inches / 35.2 x 48.6 cm
Collection of Ryan M. Cooper

Guerrilla Warfare: Picket Duty inVirginia
Oil on panel
15.51 x 18.62 inches / 39.4 x 47.3 cm
The Century Association,New York, USA

View of Donner Lake California
(1871 – 1872)
Oil on paper
29.25 x 21.89 inches / 74.3 x 55.6 cm
The Fine Arts Museums ofSan Francisco, California, USA

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