|Rocky Mountain Landscape | 1870|
Oil on Canvas | 36 5/8 in. x 54 3/4 in.
The White House Art Collection
Albert Bierstadt (January 7, 1830 – February 18, 1902) was a German-American painter best known for his lavish, sweeping landscapes of the American West. To paint the scenes, Bierstadt joined several exploratory journeys during the westward expansion of the United States, sketching and painting all that inspired him. Though not the first artist to record these sites, Bierstadt was the foremost painter of these scenes for the remainder of the 19th century.
Born in Germany, Bierstadt came to the United States at the age of one with his parents. He later returned to study painting for several years in Düsseldorf. He became part of the Hudson River School in New York, an informal group of like-minded painters who started painting along this scenic river. Their style was based on carefully detailed paintings with romantic, almost glowing lighting, sometimes called luminism.
The artist's rugged, romanticized landscapes of the West, painted on a grand scale with an abundance of detail and dramatic lighting, captured the imagination of 19th-century art collectors and their interest catapulted Bierstadt to the top of the American art market. His paintings brought record prices and in his lifetime, Bierstadt enjoyed tremendous success and recognition.
Bierstadt became internationally renowned for his beautiful and enormous paintings of the newly accessible American west, and his works found their way into public and private collections at staggeringly high prices for his time. His popularity and wealth rose to tremendous heights only to fade as the interest in impressionism turned public taste away from his highly detailed landscapes suffused with golden light.
Nonetheless, his paintings remain popular. He was a prolific artist, having completed over 500 paintings during his lifetime, most of which have survived. Many are scattered through museums around the United States. Original paintings themselves do occasionally come up for sale, at ever increasing prices.
Because of Bierstadt's fascination with mountain landscapes, Mount Bierstadt in Colorado is named in his honor. Another Colorado mountain was originally named Mount Rosa, after Bierstadt's wife, but it was later renamed Mount Evans after Colorado governor John Evans.
Other posts on this blog with references to Albert Bierstadt: