DCSIMG
Among the Sierra Nevada, California by Albert Bierstadt / American Art
Larger Type
Smaller Type

Search Collections

Among the Sierra Nevada, California

1868 Albert Bierstadt Born: Solingen, Germany 1830 Died: New York, New York 1902 oil on canvas overall: 72 x 120 1/8 in. (183 x 305 cm) frame: 96 1/4 x 144 3/8 x 7 1/4 in. (244.5 x 366.7 x 18.4 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of Helen Huntington Hull, granddaughter of William Brown Dinsmore, who acquired the painting in 1873 for "The Locusts," the family estate in Dutchess County, New York 1977.107.1 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, East Wing



Gallery Label

Albert Bierstadt’s beautifully crafted paintings played to a market eager, in the 1860s, for spectacular views of the nation’s frontiers. Bierstadt was an immigrant and a hardworking entrepreneur who had grown rich pairing his artistic skill with a talent for self-promotion. The unveiling of one of his canvases was a theatrical event. He sold tickets and planted news stories, strategies that one critic described as the “vast machinery of advertisement and puffery.” A “great picture” was elaborately framed and installed in a room with carefully controlled lighting. At the appointed time, the work was revealed to thunderous applause.

 

Bierstadt painted Among the Sierra Nevada, California in his Rome studio, then showed the canvas in Berlin and London before shipping it to the United States. Works such as this fueled the image of America as a promised land just when Europeans were immigrating to this country in great numbers. When the painting was shown in Boston, one critic recognized that the landscape was a fiction invented from Bierstadt’s sketches of the West. Nevertheless, the writer felt that it represented “what our scenery ought to be, if it is not so in reality.”

 

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Keywords

Animal - bird - duck

Animal - deer

Landscape - California

Landscape - lake

Landscape - mountain - Sierra Nevada Mountains

Landscape - waterfall

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added