Nineteenth century was brimming with brilliant artists who left a gaping hole in the history of arts with their demise. One such name that comes to our mind is Albert Bierstadt, who was American based artist from German origin. His paintings received are highly acclaimed for his eye for the details and the beautiful subject of his work that was mainly the serenely majestic landscapes of Western America.
On January 7, 1830, Albert Bierstadt was born to a German family, in Solingen, Rhine Province, Prussia. His family came to United States when he was only a year old. In his childhood, he developed passion for arts as he would use substitute for paints, crayons, for drawing. Two decades later began to make use of oil paints for his work. In 1953, he moved back to Germany with the desire to study painting. He attended several informal art schools there and upon return to United States he took up teaching profession briefly. Subsequently, he devoted all his time and energy to painting.
Bierstadt’s popularity is attached to one of his masterpieces, a large painting of a Swiss landscape. The painting was exhibited in 1858 in at the National Academy of Design. It was a critically acclaimed work of his, garnering him an honorary membership in the Academy. Following this fortunate opportunity, the landscapes in New England, New York and in the Hudson River valley, became the subject of his work given their other-earthly beauty.
Westward, Bierstadt traveled with a companion, Frederick W. Lander, to survey the landscapes there and upon his return he drew sketches that culminated in several paintings. He made another trip to the West, which served as an inspiration for several large-scale paintings that went for exhibition later. As the American Civil War broke, he paid for substitute to serve in his place during the drafting season. The War became the new subject of his works based on his brief experiences with the soldiers and on a stereoscopic photograph taken by his brother. Those war paintings included Civil War and Guerrilla Warfare. In 1861, the Brooklyn Art Association at the Brooklyn Academy of Music exhibited his civil war inspired painting which was a huge success. The paintings were reviewed by a curator as voyeuristic, and unblemished by first-hand experience of violence.
The National Academy elected him as the member in 1860. He received multiple accolades across the Europe, from Austria, Germany, Bavaria and Belgium. Moreover, he exhibited his painting in London in a private reception with Queen Victoria which was quite an honor for the artist. To sustain his work market he traveled across Europe engaging with several art patrons and admirers of his works. The Yosemite paintings that brought him great publicity, earned him requests to visit the Grand Canyon for the subject matter of his next project.
One of his notable works, The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak, was sold for twenty-five thousand dollars. With growing success, Bierstadt also became target of criticism. He was criticized for the romantic element that was found in his work. The other half of the critics praised his work for presenting the view of the American West as promising and opportunistic. Some of his noteworthy works include, The Portico of Octavia, The Wolf River, Echo Lake, Franconia Mountains and On the Hudson River Near Irvington.