ALBERT BIERSTADT PAINTINGS FOR SALE & BIOGRAPHY
Albert Bierstadt was the self-taught son of a cooper who moved with his family to the United States in 1832 and settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He worked with a daguerreotypist and developed an early taste for photography. He studied in Düsseldorf in 1853, then travelled in Italy, Germany, and Switzerland before returning to America in 1857, where he subsequently embarked on a series of travels throughout the American Northwest between 1860 and 1890. Between 1867 and 1869 he also spent time in Europe, notably in London, Paris, and Rome. At the beginning of the 1870s, he met and married Rosalie Ludlow and settled at Irvingston in New York State. He then spent another two years in Europe. When his house and studio burnt down in 1882, he moved to New York City. The French government accorded him the Légion d’Honneur in 1869, and he was also a member of New York’s National Academy of Design (from 1860) and the Century Association (1862 to 1902).
Together with Frederick Edwin Church, Bierstadt was one of the leading figures of the Hudson School. In a bid to explore America in its virgin state, he went west to the Rocky Mountains and Northern California, where he sketched landscapes that were subsequently transposed onto large canvases. Like many landscape painters working at the same time, Bierstadt used photographs of the American west as references for his productions. He recognised the importance of photography to record the American landscape and made stereoscopes of the Rockies. Moreover, as a savvy businessman, he became involved in the reproduction of his paintings by photomechanical methods. In 1859 he assisted his two brothers, Charles and Edward, in establishing a photo studio in New Bedford. While Charles and Edward parted ways in 1870, they were both actively working with their brother, whether photographing on location or reproducing Bierstadt’s canvases with the most advanced technology available.
Bierstadt is noted particularly for his panoramic views of Mount Hood (painted in the 1860s) and the Yosemite Valley. His most important work includes Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak, and Burning Vessel (all in the Belmont Collection), together with Laramie Peak (Fine Arts Academy, Buffalo, New York) and Estes Park, Colorado, a work exhibited at London’s Royal Academy in 1878 and acquired by the Earl of Dunraven. He also sketched numerous scenes portraying immigrants and indigenous tribes and worked as a photographer on Harper’s Weekly.
Bierstadt’s career took a downward turn when he was rejected by the American selection committee for the Exposition Universelle in 1889 and when he was rejected by the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893. His work was no longer considered to be representative of contemporary American art. His reputation as one of the greatest landscape painters of the United States was only restored in the 1960s when the public showed renewed interest in his sketches. (Benezit, Dictionary of Artists, Gründ, 2006)