Albert Bierstadt’s Valley of the Yosemite

Meet the Artists of Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture

A painting of a valley with a lake.

Albert Bierstadt, Valley of the Yosemite, 1864, oil on paperboard, 11 7/8 x 19 1/4 in., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Martha C. Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865, 47.1236, Photograph © 2020 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

About this Artwork

Jessie Benton Frémont arranged to have this painting of Yosemite included in the New York Metropolitan Fair of 1864, an event staged to benefit the Union cause during the Civil War. She championed Bierstadt’s work and was particularly fond of this California landscape, the first of Bierstadt’s views of Yosemite to go on display in New York. Despite its small size, this painting attracted considerable attention, the lyrical sunset interpreted as an emblem of hope for the country’s future during the Civil War.