Albert Bierstadt 1830-1902
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Albert Bierstadt was born in Solingen, Germany in 1830, and his family moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts the following year. During his prolific career, Bierstadt was a part of both the Hudson River School and the Rocky Mountain School. He experienced enormous success during his lifetime, as Bierstadt’s massive panoramic landscape paintings of the unchartered American West generated record sales prices. The Rocky Mountains (Metropolitan Museum of Art) and Mount Corcoran (Corcoran Gallery of Art) are particularly renowned. Such was Bierstadt’s influence, that Mt. Bierstadt in the Rocky Mountain Range is now named after him.

Originally self-taught, Bierstadt returned to Germany in 1853 for more opportunities and enrolled at the Dusseldorf School, which preached the use of precise brushstrokes and dramatic lighting in order to produce a polished finish to paintings. Here, Bierstadt focused on Alpine landscapes and continued to do so when he returned to the United States in 1857. The German-American painter was fascinated by the purity of the American frontier and Native American life and travelled westward on numerous expeditions beginning in 1859. He executed romanticized paintings based on the sketches he produced on his journeys in New York, and his rising popularity prompted the United States’ government to commission two Bierstadt paintings for the Capitol. Unfortunately for Bierstadt, his career began to plummet in the 1880s, coinciding with a major fire at his mansion and the domination of French Impressionism. He died bankrupt in New York in 1902, but the legacy he left behind is one of the richest of any American landscape painter.