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Albert Bierstadt BiographyAmerican Hudson River School painter, landscapist & photographer
born 1830 - died 1902
Born in: Solingen (Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany).
Died in: Irving (Chautauqua, New York state, United States).
Full member of: National Academy of Design, New York (from 1860).
Exhibited at: National Academy of Design, New York (from 1858)
Recognized as the foremost
painter of the American frontier during the
nineteenth-century, Albert Bierstadt was
born in Solingen, Germany, in 1830. At the
age of two, the Hudson River School painter and his family
emigrated to the United States, settling in
New Bedford, Massachusetts. Nothing is known
of his early art training;
however, he might possibly have been
influenced by local landscape artists and
daguerreotypists. By the time Albert
Bierstadt was twenty, he was supporting himself by teaching
"monochromatic" painting and his painting was beginning to attract
the attention of New Bedford collectors.
|Indeed, because much of the continent remained still relatively unexplored at that time, his monumental renderings of stately mountains and cascading waterfalls created romantic visions of wanderlust in the minds of Easterners. First public exhibition of Albert Bierstadt antique paintings in 1860 was a resounding success. Many critics deemed the viewing of his depictions as an almost "religious" experience, associating his mountain spires with majestic cathedrals, his luminous skies with the awesome power of God. As pointed out by Barbara Novak, such paintings represent the attitude of the "transcendental mind," one in which "all matter was an extension of God."|
Albert Bierstadt was elected a full Academician of
the National Academy of Design in 1860. In
the same year, he made several painting
trips to the White Mountains as well as to
the southern United States. He made a second
trip to the West in 1863 which was followed
by another visit to Europe in 1867. In 1871,
Albert Bierstadt moved to California where he played an active role in the art
life of San Francisco. In 1873, the Hudson River School artist returned to New York.
During the 1870s, Bierstadt executed a mural for the U.S. Capitol (1875) and in conjunction with the declining health of his wife, made the first of many trips to the Bahamas. Albert Bierstadt made a third trip to Europe in 1883. During 1889, he painted in both Alaska and British Columbia. He continued to produce landscapes throughout the 1890s. Albert Bierstadt also became involved in the promotion of various inventions, including his own designs for the improvement of railway cars.
|Albert Bierstadt died in New York City in 1902. Although his reputation during the 1890s suffered slightly from the attraction for French art, his impact upon the American landscape tradition of the nineteenth century remains strong. his large-scale, panoramic landscapes, with their dramatic, almost sublime, light effects, coupled with the meticulous rendering of details, reflect the influences of both the contemporary landscape school of Düsseldorf as well as the native Hudson River School aesthetic. Antique Bierstadt paintings can be found in major public and private collections throughout North America and Europe, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Wadsworth Atheneum, and the National Gallery of Canada.|
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