About the Artist
Albert Bierstadt (1830 - 1902 ) made his New York debut in the spring of 1858, when he contributed a large painting of Lake Lucerne and the Swiss Alps to the annual exhibition at the National Academy of Design. Critics were dazzled by Bierstadt's technical expertise; within weeks he was elected an honorary member of the academy.
One year after completing Lake Lucerne Bierstadt traveled to the Rocky Mountains for the first time. Though not the first artist to see or even paint the Rockies, Bierstadt was the first who brought with him superior technical skills and considerable experience painting European alpine peaks. For Americans eager to finally see the mountains a generation of travelers had described as "America's alps," Bierstadt's credentials were near perfect. During the decade that followed he produced the western landscapes that brought him his greatest success. These views of the west, so often described as distinctly American, were born of Bierstadt's experience abroad and frequently duplicate the composition of the first of his large–scale landscapes, Lake Lucerne.
In the spring of 1863, he set off on his second journey west. Accompanied by Fitz Hugh Ludlow, a celebrated writer who later published a book about their overland adventure, Bierstadt traveled to the Pacific Coast. He spent several weeks in Yosemite Valley completing the plein air studies he would later use to compose several of his most important paintings. Utilizing studies gathered during all stages of his journey, Bierstadt completed, by the end of the decade, a remarkable series of large scale paintings that not only secured his position as the premier painter of the western American landscape but also offered a war-torn nation a golden image of their own Promised Land.
This poster is a reproduction of Albert Bierstadt's Lake Lucerne (1858).
Best known for his panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains, Albert Bierstadt began his career as a painter of European landscapes. In 1856, during a period of study abroad, he spent time in Switzerland and completed the plein air sketches he would later use to compose Lake Lucerne, the most important painting of his early career.
In the spring of 1858 he sent the painting to New York for the annual exhibition at the National Academy of Design. The picture caused a sensation. Bierstadt was hailed as a bright new star on the American art stage and was elected an honorary member of the Academy.
Bierstadt's painting offers a sweeping view of Lake Lucerne with the village of Brunnen in the middle distance and the alpine peaks Ematten, Oberbauen, Uri–Rotstock and St. Gotthard in the distance. Though an image of mountain grandeur, Lake Lucerne also contains numerous pastoral vignettes—a harvest scene near the center, a religious procession at the right, and a gypsy camp at the left.
- 19 x 31 inches (image), 21 x 31 inches (poster)