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  • Albert Bierstadt
    Jan 7, 1830 - Feb 18, 1902
  • Cho-Looke, Yosemite Waterfall - Albert Bierstadt was a German-American painter best known for his lavish, sweeping landscapes of the American West. To paint the scenes, Bierstadt joined several journeys of the Westward Expansion. Though not the first artist to record these sites, Bierstadt was the foremost painter of these scenes for the remainder of the 19th century.
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Cho-Looke, Yosemite Waterfall
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  • Cho-Looke, Yosemite Waterfall

  • Albert Bierstadt
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  • 1864
    Oil on canvas
    87 x 68.9 cm (34-1/4 x 27-1/8 in.)
    Timken Museum of Art - San Diego, California, United States.

    Albert Bierstadt earned his initial popularity with a series of landscape paintings of the Rocky Mountains. The works were based on sketches he made on a United States government expedition engaged in mapping an overland route to the Pacific. In 1863, he set out with a group of artists on his second western trip to visit the valley of Yosemite.
    This painting conveys the spectacular scale and natural majesty of Yosemite Falls. In the foreground near a grove of oaks and cypresses, several men gather at their camp. In the right corner of the painting are a sketching umbrella, a color-box, and other objects that Bierstadt took on the expedition.

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Other paintings by Albert Bierstadt:

A Storm in the Rocky Mountains
A Storm in the Rocky Mountains
Indian Encampment - Evening
Indian Encampment - Evening
Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California
Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California
Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California
Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California
Albert BierstadtAlbert Bierstadt was one finest artist to portray the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. The paintings by Albert Bierstadt were often oversized, highly colorful and portrayed the immense distances and scale of the American West. His use of vivid colors and inspiring scenery have made Albert Bierstadt one of the most popular artists of the American West and made him the most popular artist of the 1870's.

Albert Bierstadt was born near Dusseldorf in 1830. His family moved to Massachusetts two years later. Despite prodding from his family to not become an artist, Albert Bierstadt persisted and produced his first oil painting at the age of 21.

In 1853, Albert Bierstadt returned to Dusseldorf in Germany for three years, where he studied art intensely. Traveling widely over Europe, Albert Bierstadt produced sketches and drawings of the Alps. By the time he returned to the United States in 1857, Albert Bierstadt had gained a tremendous amount of experience in landscape paintings, sketches and drawings.

He made his first trip west in 1859, accompanying a government expedition led by Frederic Lander. The purpose of the expedition, which was to travel all the way to California, was to improve the mountain passes of the trails. The expedition followed the Oregon Trail, providing Albert Bierstadt with first hand knowledge of the events that played out along this historic and scenic trail. He met many emigrants returning east who were unable to find their riches in the Colorado gold strikes, and met others who joined their party on their trek west. His observations of the overland migration became some of the most fruitful sources of ideas for future artwork by Albert Bierstadt.

As the expedition reached the mountains, Albert Bierstadt became much taken in with their beauty. He was also intrigued by the Indians, and unlike most other Americans during that time period, did not consider them ruthless savages. Despite his upbringing in the east, he found he also enjoyed camp life. The wide variety of wildlife he encountered, along with the beautiful scenery and historic events that were unfolding, would be of invaluable importance for his future paintings.

Following this trip, Albert Bierstadt returned east and began to produce some of his most spectacular paintings. Believing that the beauty of the Rocky Mountains could not be captured on a small oil paint, he paintings were produced on large, often over-sized, canvasses. His beautiful and famous print, The Rocky Mountains, was on a canvas measuring over sixty square feet.

The paintings by Albert Bierstadt became very popular with the American public. Their large size, their beautiful use of colors as well as attention to details in the foreground all combined to make the paintings by Albert Bierstadt highly prized.

In 1863, Albert Bierstadt once again ventured westward, this time beyond the Sierra Nevada. Later in the 1860's, Albert Bierstadt returned to Colorado and spent several years painting the beautiful mountains and landscapes that are found there. In fact, he became so well liked in Colorado and his prints so well known that they named a mountain after him - Mount Bierstadt - which stands along the Front Range near Mount Evans. A beautiful alpine lake in Rocky Mountain National Park was also named after him.

The 1870's saw the height of popularity for Albert Bierstadt. His works were highly sought after and graced many a wall in museums in both the United States and around the world. He also created two historical paintings for the US Capitol Building.

The popularity of Albert Bierstadt among the art crowd began to wane in the 1890's, although his prints will still highly prized. Albert Bierstadt died in 1902.