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Woodland Pool

Woodland Pool
signed with conjoined initials 'ABierstadt.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
36 x 26 in. (91.4 x 66 cm.)
Painted circa 1870.
Terry DeLapp, Los Angeles, California.
(Probably) Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1974.
C.H. Campbell, "Albert Bierstadt and the White Mountains," Archives of American Art Journal, vol. 21, no. 3, 1981, p. 23.
Further Details
We would like to thank Melissa Webster Speidel, President of the Bierstadt Foundation and Director of the Albert Bierstadt catalogue raisonné project, for her assistance in the cataloguing of this lot. This work is included in the database being compiled for her forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work.

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Tylee Abbott
Tylee Abbott Vice President, Head of American Art

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Lot Essay

Delicately rendered with meticulous detail and brilliant fall colors, Albert Bierstadt’s Woodland Pool gloriously captures the striking beauty of autumn and the artist’s fascination with the many facets of nature. The present composition may depict New Hampshire, a locale that Bierstadt often painted following his first visit to the White Mountains as early as 1852. A loving depiction of the changing seasons, the present work illustrates Bierstadt’s keen ability to capture all that the natural world has to offer, down to the smallest details.

A preeminent member of the Hudson River School, Bierstadt was renowned for his majestic depictions of American scenery. Born in Germany, he migrated to the United States with his family in 1832, though he returned to his native country to study art in Düsseldorf and elsewhere in Europe, where he would travel from 1853-57. Upon his return to America, Bierstadt began work at his studio in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Soon, he would embark upon the Western expeditions that helped shape his oeuvre and solidify his dedication to painting the American landscape. Throughout his career, Bierstadt “harnessed the lessons learned during his formal artistic training in Düsseldorf, Germany, and efficaciously applied these skills to distinctly American subjects…[to resonate with] Americans who sought visual confirmation that their own nation held natural wonders as magnificent as those in Europe.” (K.B. McWhorter in P.H. Hassrick, Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West, Norman, Oklahoma, 2018, p. 4) Among those celebrated wonders, equally taken up and championed by other members of the Hudson River School, were the unique and powerful displays of America’s grand deciduous forests. Subjects such as this helped gain Bierstadt international recognition, positioning him as a forerunner of nineteenth-century American art.

Bathed in a golden, glowing light, Woodland Pool brilliantly demonstrates the changing colors of the fall season. The rich red and warm orange hues lyrically arch over a waterfall that elegantly flows into a placid stream. The trees form a natural pathway that leads the viewer’s eye directly to the picturesque falls. Juxtaposing the colors of his variable palette, Bierstadt also sprinkles the bright leaves throughout the cool tones of the water. A tree trunk lies in the stream, heightening the sense of a natural world untouched by man. In doing so, the artist completely immerses the viewer in the peaceful, unaltered forest interior. Bierstadt's Glen Ellis Falls (circa 1869, Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey) evokes a similar sense of awe, each exemplifying Bierstadt’s ability to capture the endless wonders of the American wilderness.

As illustrated by the present work, Bierstadt's majestic paintings manifest the profound veneration and wonder that the artist maintained for nature, as well as the overpowering sense of liberation and calm that the American landscape offers. In summarizing Bierstadt’s achievement, Gordon Hendricks writes that “his successes envelop us with the beauty of nature, its sunlight, its greenness, its mist, its subtle shades, its marvelous freshness. All of these Bierstadt felt deeply. Often he was able, with the struggle that every artist knows, to put his feelings on canvas. When he succeeded in what he was trying to do…he was as good as any landscapist in the history of American art.” (Albert Bierstadt: Painter of the American West, New York, 1973, p. 10)

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