Happy Birthday, Albert Bierstadt!

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Albert Bierstadt (January 7, 1830 – February 18, 1902) was a German-American painter associated with the Hudson River School and known for his sweeping landscapes of the American West. Bierstadt's work is marked by his romantic style which favored the creation of dreamy, awe-inspiring scenery rather than absolutely precise depictions of American geography. He painted prolificially from the beginning of his career, and is thought to have completed anywhere between 500 and 4000 works of art.

 

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Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California (1868)

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Sunrise in the Sierras, 1872

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Seal Rock, 1872

BierstadtAlbert Bierstadt was born in Solingen, Germany, and his family immigrated to New Bedford, Massachusetts a year later. At the age of twenty, Bierstadt advertised himself as an art instructor in New Bedford charging three dollars a day, and began to exhibit his own work.

Three years later, he was offered the chance to study painting in Germany, and he travelled there to study with the Düsseldorf Academy. Throughout his career, Bierstadt would stay true to the style encouraged by the Düsseldorf school, which used dramatic lighting known as luminism, and meticulous brushstrokes. 

Upon returning to the States, Bierstadt embarked on the first of several trips out west, largely uncharted and "untamed" at the time, accompanying a government land surveyor, Frederick W. Lander. Bierstadt regarded his expedition as an effort to "study the scenery of that wild region, and the picturesque facts of Indian life, with reference to a series of large pictures."

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The Oregon Trail

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Giant Redwood Trees of California

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Valley of the Yosemite, 1864

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The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak

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After A Norther, Bahamas.

During the peak of his career, Bierstadt's work commanded incredible sums, including $25,000 for The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak. The U.S. government commissioned two of his paintings for the Capitol. 

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The Morteratsch Glacier Upper Engadine Valley Pontresina

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 A Rustic Mill

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On the Saco

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Sunset Deer and River

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Sunset in the Yosemite Valley

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Forest Monarchs

Bierstadt also built his mansion, Malkastan, on the Hudson River, and married his wife Rosalie in 1866. The couple travelled to Europe often and the painter enjoyed a high profile with European royalty. In 1867, Bierstadt met Queen Victoria in London, and was presented with the Legion of Honor by Napoleon in Paris. In the States, Bierstadt and his wife stayed as guests of President Hayes in the White House.

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Indians Spear Fishing

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The Ambush

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Pioneers of the Woods

However, his success was rather shortlived, and by the 1880s, Bierstadt's fortune took a turn for the worse. In 1882, Malkastan was destroyed by a fire which took several of his prized works. Rosalie died from complications from tuberculosis in 1983, and Bierstadt's popularity had long waned. Although he married the wealthy Mary Hicks Stewart in 1984, he declared bankruptcy a year later, and his entire property was sold to creditors. He continued to paint and travel for the rest of his life, but never regained his earlier success. 

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Yosemite Valley

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Nassau Harbor After 1877

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Gosnold at Cuttyhunk

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The Golden Gate

 

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Tuesday, 07 January 2014
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