About the Artist
Albert Bierstadt was born in Solingen, Prussia, on January 7, 1830, but he spent his early years in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where his parents settled two years after his birth. Primarily self-taught, Bierstadt began his professional career in 1850 when he advertised his services as a drawing instructor. Three years later he departed for Europe, hoping to obtain formal instruction.
After nearly three years in Dusseldorf, Bierstadt joined artist Worthington Whittredge on an extended sketching tour through Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Following a winter in Rome and a sketching tour to Naples and Capri, Bierstadt returned to New Bedford in the fall of 1857 a technically mature painter.
In the spring of 1858 he made his New York debut 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.
Bierstadt's European apprenticeship served him well the following spring when he journeyed west 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. By late September 1859 Bierstadt had returned to New Bedford laden with field sketches, stereo photographs, and Indian artifacts. Within three months he had moved to New York, established himself in the Tenth Street Studio Building, and begun to exhibit the western paintings that would soon make his reputation.
Bierstadt traveled to the Pacific Coast in the spring of 1863. He spent several weeks in Yosemite Valley completing the plein air studies he would later use to compose several of his most important paintings. Following a trip north through Oregon to the Columbia River, Bierstadt returned east and 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 print is a reproduction of Albert Bierstadt's Mount Corcoran (1877). Bierstadt was the first artist to use his European training to translate field studies into expansive paintings celebrating western American grandeur. Evident everywhere in Mount Corcoran, from the glassy water to the snowy mountain peaks, are the artist's detailed naturalism and smooth surfaces. Following the discovery of gold in California, the American West became a source of intense fascination for East Coast art patrons and armchair travelers alike who were eager to see images of the vistas enthusiastically described by forty-niners, surveyors, and journalists. In 1859 Bierstadt joined US Army Colonel Frederick W. Lander's survey party to the Rocky Mountains. Four years later he set his sights on California's spectacular Yosemite Valley. When he returned to New York following that trip, Bierstadt began producing stunning landscapes such as Mount Corcoran that introduced eastern audiences to the natural wonders of the West.
- 11 x 14 inches