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Albert Bierstadt
Among the Sierra Nevada, California
1868
oil
72 x 120 in.
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



Among the Sierra Nevada, California, one of Bierstadt's largest and most spectacular Western landscapes, was painted in Rome during the winter of 1867–68 and toured throughout Europe during the following year. Though it was probably the only glimpse Europeans, and even most Americans, would ever have of the majesty of the West, in fact the painting was a construct from start to finish. Upon its public exhibition in the United States, some critics faulted Bierstadt for not producing a topographically accurate portrait of the landscape, while others praised him for his “power of combination—an ideal union of the most splendid and characteristic features of our western mountains…a perfect type of the American idea of what our scenery ought to be, if it is not so in reality.”