Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)


An American art icon, Albert Bierstadt evolved his artistic style from that of a pastime through years of study to become one of the most successful landscape artists ever. The vast grandeur of his panoramic vistas hold such serene impact that they are rivaled only by the best artists, including his contemporaries, Frederick Church, Thomas Moran and Sanford Gifford.

Bierstadt has come to be included in the Hudson River School of Painters, but his approach to painting, versed in his studies at the Dusseldorf Academy in Germany, sets him apart. One of the very first artists to use a camera, his subject details are exacting, but still suggestive enough to be far more than painted photographs. Color and light become tools of emotion in his works, so that places he helped discover are presented as fresh explorations to each viewer of his paintings. He translates distance in such a manner as to draw a viewer to the entirety of the picture.

Timing was very important to Bierstadt's career. American audiences had just heartily received the first works of Frederick Church, the foremost and last student of Thomas Cole, who was instrumental in popularizing landscapes in the American art market. Bierstadt's travel west in 1858 began his run of some of the most profoundly American paintings to ever exist, and the large format canvases he gravitated toward would fetch up to $25,000 in the decade from 1865-1875, an amazing sum for that time. American tastes would soon turn fickle and embrace the Barbizon-influenced paintings. It would take nearly 100 years for Bierstadt to rise again to the prominence so rightly his.

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