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Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak

Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak

  • $ 19,000.00


Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)

The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak

Published: 1866, New York, by Edward Bierstadt (1824-1906)

Steel engraving with hand coloring

Engraved by James Smillie (1807-1885)

Signed lower right “A. Bierstadt”

Sheet size: 25 1/4 x 35 3/8”

Frame size: 34 3/8 x 44 1/4”

Albert Bierstadt’s “Great Picture” The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak achieved astonishing critical and popular acclaim and propelled the artist into the first rank of American painters with remarkable rapidity. To capitalize on that success, Bierstadt sent the painting on tour, accompanied by a subscription list for ordering the work in printed form. Published in 1866, the masterful engraving captures the essence of Bierstadt’s style, making manifest the reasons why this image was (and is) so celebrated. Writing of the painting, a contemporary critic asserted that with this work, the artist had managed not only to equal but to surpass the greatest of European landscape painters, so long held to be superior to American artists: “What a sensation it would produce in the National Gallery [London], if beside the landscapes of Claude and Turner... could be hung for a season Bierstadt’s picture of the Rocky Mountains! With the clearest recollection of these and other famous scenes, we have no hesitation in saying that, in our opinion, the work of our own artist is, in grandeur of conception, faithfulness in detail, splendor of color, and harmony of tone, unexcelled by any landscape ever painted.”

Born in Germany in 1830, Bierstadt came to the U.S. in 1832. He spent his childhood in New Bedford, Massachusetts. At the age of 23 he returned to Germany to study at the Academy in Dusseldorf. Afterward he painted with Worthington Whittredge in Rome, returning to the U.S. in 1857. The next year Bierstadt headed west with Colonel Lander's surveying expedition to map an overland route from St. Louis to the Pacific. Bierstadt left the party to sketch the Wind River and Shoshone country on his own. In 1863 he made another western trip with Fitzhugh Ludlow, who recorded the journey in The Heart of the Continent (1870). The Rocky Mountains was one of the most important paintings created from that experience. The painting’s success placed Bierstadt in competition with Church as America's most successful painter of masterpiece landscapes, and together the two became the first American artists to rival their European colleagues (much as the landscapes they painted were completely unlike anything that one could see across the Atlantic). Bierstadt’s fame was international, and engravings such as this were hung with pride in the mansions of American railroad magnates, English lords, German barons and Russian princes.

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