Albert Bierstadt the most famous North American landscape painter of the second half of the XIX century, famous for the majestic panoramas of wild nature. The work of Albert Bierstadt is notable for its realism, but belongs to neo-romanticism, since it idealizes reality. His paintings are attributed to the Hudson School, which is characterized by the image of untouched landscapes and native people of America. The author is also referred to the Dusseldorf School, since his artistic biography begins with studying in Germany.
Biography of Albert Bierstadt
Albert Bierstadt was born on January 7, 1830 in the German city of Solingen, located near Dusseldorf. At the age of one, he and his family moved to the American state of Massachusetts, where he spent his childhood. Albert’s brother became a famous photographer, and he himself showed a talent for drawing from an early age. In 1853, the young man went to Europe and studied painting at the Dusseldorf Academy of Arts for several years, and also visited Italy.
Albert Bierstadt returned to the United States in 1857 and became the best painter in his city of New Bedford. A year later, he became more widely known thanks to his participation in a national exhibition. Then the landscape painter, together with government surveyors, embarks on a long journey through the wilderness of the American continent. He saw with his own eyes and sketched the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains and the shores of the Pacific Ocean, which he painted in oils in subsequent years. During his life, he more than once made such trips and conquered mountain peaks. Now a mountain and a lake in Colorado are named after him.
After the trip, Bierstadt opens a studio in New York.
The 1860 exhibition brought him worldwide fame, and in 1865 the epic canvas “Rocky Mountains, Lender’s Peak” sold for a record 25,000. During the same period, the artist became a member of the National Academy of Design. The success allowed him to travel freely around Europe and even meet Queen Victoria in London. The painter was happily married to the beautiful Rosalie Ludlow and lived in a luxurious mansion on the river bank.
In the early 1880s, a dark streak set in. First, a fire in the studio destroyed many of the artist’s paintings, then his wife died of consumption. Large-scale panoramas, which once aroused the delight of the public, were no longer in demand by the end of the century. To earn money, the landscape painter had to make low-quality copies of his own famous works. Albert Bierstadt died on February 18, 1902 in his hometown of New Bedford and was forgotten for more than half a century. Only in the 1960s, in the wake of interest in preserving the unique North American nature, his work became popular again. Now the works of this author are kept in the best museums in the United States and numerous private collections.
The most famous paintings by Albert Bierstadt
This artist worked fruitfully and left more than 500 landscapes, and according to some estimates, their number is close to 4,000. The paintings are characterized by some theatricality and a dramatic combination of light and shadow. “Radiant” lighting generally distinguishes the Hudson River School, to which the author belonged. Here are the most famous paintings by Albert Bierstadt:
- “Rocky Mountains, Lender Peak” (1863). A two-by-three-meter canvas depicts the Wind River Ridge in the Rocky Mountains. The landscape is not entirely real: the painter changed the view for a better embodiment of the artistic intention. The work was sold for a record 25,000 for American artists.
- Yosemite Valley (1864). When Bierstadt saw this valley, he wrote to a friend that he had discovered the Garden of Eden in America. The idyllic panorama contributed to the founding of Yosemite National Park, now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- “Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Rosalie Peak” (1866). The snow-capped mountain visible in the clouds was named after the artist’s wife, but was later renamed. For more drama, Bierstadt used the sharp contrast of light and shadow, and also exaggerated the scale of the Rocky Mountains.
- “Among the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, California” (1868). The mountain landscape was painted in Rome four years after a trip to the Sierra Nevada. He has exhibited in London, Paris, Moscow and St. Petersburg, increasing interest in US immigration.