Albert Bierstadt’s beautifully crafted paintings played to a hot market in the 1860s for spectacular views of the nation’s frontiers. Bierstadt was an immigrant and hardworking entrepreneur who had grown rich pairing his skill as a painter with a talent for self-promotion. He unveiled his canvases as theatrical events, selling tickets and planting news stories—strategies that one critic described as the “vast machinery of advertisement and puffery.” A Bierstadt canvas was elaborately framed, installed in a darkened room, and hidden behind luxurious drapes. At the appointed time, the work was revealed to thunderous applause.
This painting was made in London and toured through Europe to St. Petersburg, fueling Europeans’ interest in emigration. Buoyed by glowing reviews, Bierstadt then offered the painting to American audiences who could take pride in an American artist’s skill and in the natural splendors of their young nation.
Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006
Albert Bierstadt’s beautifully crafted paintings played to a market eager, in the 1860s, for spectacular views of the nation’s frontier. Bierstadt painted Among the Sierra Nevada, California in his Rome studio. He 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.
Smithsonian American Art Museum: Commemorative Guide. Nashville, TN: Beckon Books, 2015.
Among the Sierra Nevada, California
- 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)
- Credit Line
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
- Mediums Description
- oil on canvas
- Animal – deer
- Landscape – waterfall
- Landscape – lake
- Landscape – California
- Object Number
- Linked Open Data
- Linked Open Data URI