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Albert Bierstadt



Albert Bierstadt<BR> Metropolitan Art Museum

Albert Bierstadt (BEER stat) was born in Prussia, which was a large German state. (This land today is in Germany, Poland, and Russia.) He came to America with his parents when he was two years old. He grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

As he grew up, he taught himself to paint. Then he decided to go to Dusseldorf, Germany to study with a group of artists. They toured Europe. He took photographs and made sketches from which he later painted landscapes. Sometimes he put himself in dangererous situations just to capture a particular scene. He stayed in Europe four years and then returned to the United States.

He painted the magnificent scenes in Yosemite. When people saw the paintings, they wanted to go there and see it for themselves. As a result, so many people went to Yosemite, that the land was no longer unspoiled, and Bierstadt went elsewhere to paint.

In 1859 the artist made a trip to the Colorado and Wyoming territories with Frederick Lander, who was in charge of a government survey expedition. He was inspired to paint this beautiful scene of the Rocky Mountains. Indians are encamped in the valley. They are not the main focus of the subject, but they are important to the overall effect. The mountains and the sky are the subject. He highlights certain areas of the painting to add interest. This is a large painting; six feet high and ten feet long.

Bierstadt was part of a group of artists called Luminists, a term which comes from the word luminous which means radiating or reflecting light. This group of artists used light in their paintings as Thomas Kinkaid does today. Notice Bierstadt's use of light in the paintings below.

California Coast

Deer at Sunset

Sunset Over a Mountain Lake

After Colonel Lander died in the Civil War, Bierstadt named the highest peak in the painting Lander's Peak. The painting sold for $25,000 in 1865. That was a lot of money in those days. Later, it is said, he bought it back and either gave it to his brother or sold it to him.

In 1867 he married, and he and his new bride went to London. There he met with Queen Victoria. His wife, Rosalie, needed to live in a warm climate for health reasons. She lived in Nassau, and her husband began to paint the tropics of Nassau as a result of his stays there.

He died suddenly in 1902 and people seemed to forget his work until the 1960's. People became more interested in preserving our national lands, and his paintings began to be shown again.

This biography was written by Patsy Stevens, a retired teacher.


Wilder, Jesse Bryant. Art History for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing Inc, 2007. Order

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Art Gallery Famous Paintings Volume 1

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Research Links

The Oregon Trail

Biography of Bierstadt
from the National Gallery of Art

Lake Lucerne
by Bierstadt
For details of Lake Lucerne click on "zoom"
and look for the people in the fields
and the boats on the lake
in the close-ups

Paintings by Bierstadt
at Wikipedia




Order the following books from Amazon.

Pioneer photographers of the far west: a biographical dictionary, 1840-1865
by Peter E. Palmquist, Thomas R. Kailbourn (selected pages) Order

Modern painters and their paintings: for the use of schools and learners in art
by Sarah Tytler 1873(full view) Order

An Endless Panorama of Beauty
by Joyce Henri Robinson, Leo G. Mazow (selected pages) Order

Albert Bierstadt - New York Magazine Oct. 9, 1972
(full view)

The Homes of America
edited by Martha Joanna Lamb (selected pages)

American painters: with one hundred and four examples of their work engraved on wood
by George William Sheldon 1881 (full view)

The Century Volume 3
(full view)

Painters and the American West: the Anschutz collection
by Joan Carpenter Troccoli, Marlene Chambers, Jane Comstock, Sarah Anschutz Hunt, Denver Art Museum (selected pages)

Painters of the Wasatch Mountains
by Robert S. Olpin, Ann W. Orton, Thomas F. Rugh (selected pages)

What Every American Should Know about American History
by Alan Axelrod, Charles Phillips (selected pages)

Great masters of American art
by Jordi Vigue (selected pages)

Heritage Fine Art and Illustration Dallas Signature Auction Catalog #628
(selected pages)

Albert Bierstadt
by Watson-Guptill(no preview)

Chronology of the American West
by Scott C. Zeman (selected pages)

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Thank you so very much for creating this resource for children. I homeschool my 8 year old daughter and I am going to use it to introduce some famous artists to her. The worksheet are a wonderful way to help kids really learn and remember the information. Thanks again, this is a great service to children who use it.
Wow, this is amazing! Imagine if you could paint like that! Its better than a photograph.
seeing her first experience was emotional rather than aesthetic journey through space and time vicar
The two focal points in the paint are the imposing snow-capped peak of Lander and bright light surrounding the fall and spring. With this bill, a claim, he could be the Swiss Alps
phenomenal painting
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