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According to Alan Axelrod, “His [Bierstadt’s] parents brought him to New Bedford, Massachusetts [from Solingen, near Düsseldorf] in 1831. By age twenty, he was teaching drawing and painting and was exhibiting his own crayon landscapes. Unable to find satisfactory training in the United States, Bierstadt returned to Düsseldorf in 1853 to study at the academy, where he was imbued with the prevailing aesthetic of grandiose landscape depiction. He indulged his taste for the sublime on sketching trips along the Rhine, in the Alps, and in Italy.

“After returning to the United States, he put his Düsseldorf training to work in 1857, painting the impressive White Mountain region of New England. The next year, he accepted an invitation to join an expedition commanded by General Frederick W. Lander to survey a wagon road from Fort Laramie to the Pacific. Throughout the summer of 1859, Bierstadt sketched in the Wind River Range and in Shoshone country, exhibiting his first Rocky Mountain panoramas at the National Academy of Design in New York City the next year. Not only were the works an instant hit with the public, Bierstadt won immediate election to the academy.

“In 1863 and 1866, Bierstadt returned to the West, making enough sketches and studies to serve as the foundation for several years of titanic landscapes. With his works bringing prices unparalleled for an American artist, Bierstadt built a suitably majestic studio on the Hudson River at Irvington, New York. In 1872 and 1873, he journeyed to California and lived and worked on the Pacific coast.

“Although Bierstadt based his titanic depictions of the western landscape on firsthand knowledge of the territory, his romantic vision was shaped by training in the grandiloquent approach taught at Düsseldorf’s famed art academy.”

PROVENANCE:
Private Collection, New York
Alexander Gallery, New York, 1982
Sotheby’s, New York, 1983
Barbizon Galleries, Houston, Texas
Hart Galleries, Houston, Texas
Gordon Fletcher, Las Vegas, Nevada
Estate of Gordon Fletcher, Las Vegas, Nevada
Private Collection, Dallas, Texas

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