Albert Bierstadt Biography

Albert Bierstadt Biography

Albert Bierstadt
Artist Albert Bierstadt (1830-1901) was born at Solingen, near Düsseldorf, Germany in 1830. When Albert was only two years old, his parents emigrated to the United States and settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

After his early works were exhibited in Boston, Bierstadt returned to Düsseldorf, Germany in 1857 at the age of 23 to study art for 3 years. It was here that Albert learned the academic treatment of subject and light, precision and naturalism that is characteristic of Bierstadt's work.

In 1858, Albert Bierstadt joined the surveying expedition that led him to the western United States; it would be the first of six trips to the West between 1859 and 1889. The expedition offered him inspiration and the opportunity to see America's fabled mountains (known to a fascinated public through written descriptions and photographs in black and white) and to encounter Native Americans in their natural setting. This famous landscape painter was the first artist of distinction to take as his subject the vastness of the mountains of western North America. It was thought that if the Rockies were as grand as the Alps, paintings of them would find buyers already enthusiastic at the prospects of westward expansion. The impressions and sketches made on this trip were the basis of many of his paintings.

From sketches and oil studies done from nature (admirable works in themselves), he painted in his New York studio the huge, carefully detailed panoramic views of Western Scenery that made him one of America's most admired painters in the 1860's and 70's. His approach to landscape was a romantic one, emphasizing and sometimes exaggerating the spectacular landforms and atmosphere effects he had seen on his travels, as in his dramatic The Rocky Mountains (1863; Metropolitan Museum, New York).

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