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Charles Christian Nahl and August Wenderoth
Miners in the Sierras
54 1/4 x 67 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Fred Heilbron Collection

Had the German-born “Forty-niners” Nahl and Wenderoth struck it rich at the Rough and Ready (a mining camp near Sacramento), the Gold Rush might never have been portrayed in such detailed and lively terms. Miners in the Sierra was one of the first, and largest, paintings the two artists produced after they opened a studio in Sacramento in 1851. Four miners are hard at work along either side of the long tom, a wooden apparatus used to wash the gold from rocks and sand. The vigorous labors of the two men in their red, white, and blue shirts are depicted with the skill we would expect of artists who had European academic training.