Albert Bierstadt

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ALBERT BIERSTADT German-American (1830-1902)


Albert BierstadtBorn in Solingen, Germany, but raised in New England, Albert Bierstadt (1830 - 1902) is known today for his landscape paintings that came to epitomize the Rocky Mountain School. Bierstadt's works incorporate color, detail and undeniable drama.   In his sweeping canvases, he sought the sublime in nature. 

At the age of 23, he returned to Germany to study with members of the Düsseldorf Academy refining his technical expertise by painting alpine landscapes. After a brief time teaching drawing and painting, he returned to America in 1857 to embark on a full time career as an artist.

Soon after his return to America in 1859 he joined Colonel Frederick Landers Oregon Trail expedition bringing him  first hand exposure to the American West. He returned to his studio in the Tenth Street Studio Building (where he was neighbors with artist Frederc Church). Soon after he paintied The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak which firmly established him as a major painter of the west.  In 1863 he came west with the publicist Fitz Hugh Ludlow.  Stopping in Denver they met the editor of  the Rocky Mountain News, William Byers.  Byers toured Bierstadt along the front range, and took to Chicago Lake at the base of what is today Mount Evans.  Bierstadt painted a classic alpine scene with a turbulent sky, Storm in the Rocky Mountains Mount Rosalie He named the peak after the wife of Ludlow, whom he would later marry.   He continued to paint in the style of the Hudson River school  incorporating luminism, romantic, glowing light, meticulous attention to detail and hidden brushstrokes all in the quest to find the divine in nature.

Bierstadt's paintings sold for unprecedented prices, regularly finding their way into important public and private collections. It was only with the onset of impressionism and its affection for loosely drawn brushstrokes that Bierstadt's exceptional popularity began to wane.

Bierstadt's legacy includes being the namesake of Mount Bierstadt in Colorado. His best loved paintings were translated into engravings and lithographs including The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak, (which was engraved as well as done as a chromolithograph), Storm over Mount Rosalie (done as a chromolithograph), The Last of the Buffalo (done as a photogravure) and Halt in the Yosemite (a small steel engraving.)