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Mount Hood, Columbia River

Mount Hood, Columbia River
signed with conjoined initials and dated 'ABierstadt/70' (lower right)
oil on board
14 ¼ x 23 ¼ in. (36.2 x 59 cm.)
Painted in 1870.
Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York, 13 May 1966, lot 39.
Ira Spanierman, New York, acquired from the above.
Sloan & Roman Inc., New York.
Douglas B. Collins, Springfield, Massachusetts, by 1970.
Sale: Richard A. Bourne, Hyannis, Massachusetts, 18 August 1972, lot 57, sold by the above.
Robert K. Wineland, Alexandria, Virginia, acquired from the above.
By descent from the above.
Sotheby's, New York, 21 November 2016, lot 15, sold by the above.
Acquired by the late owners from the above.
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

Mount Hood, Columbia River manifests Albert Bierstadt’s greatest gift as an artist: his ability to transfer his personal sense of wonderment to the viewer through his adept use of perspective, light and composition. Soaring over 11,200 feet, Mount Hood is the highest point in the state of Oregon. The mountain acquired its modern name in 1792, when British naval officer William Broughton saw the peak and named it after British admiral Lord Samuel Hood. Not long after, in 1805, Lewis and Clark would spot the snow-covered summit looming above them, as in Bierstadt's present depiction.

Bierstadt first studied Mount Hood in 1863 during his second Western journey. On this trip, he rode along the Columbia River via steamer and railway alongside his friend Fitz Hugh Ludlow. During these travels, Bierstadt made numerous field sketches in preparation for his subsequent paintings. Ludlow noted, “After a night’s rest, Bierstadt spent nearly the entire morning making studies of Hood from an admirable post of observation at the top of the highest foot-hills,—a point several miles southwest of the town, which he reached under the guidance of an old Indian interpreter and trapper. His work upon this mountain was in some respect the best he ever accomplished…” (as quoted in N.K. Anderson, "Wondrously Full of Invention: The Western Landscapes of Albert Bierstadt," in Albert Bierstadt: Art & Enterprise, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1990, p. 85)

Enamored by its beauty, Bierstadt repeatedly returned to the subject of Mount Hood, including a major canvas now in the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Oregon. In the present depiction, Bierstadt depicts Mount Hood beyond the winding Columbia River reaching into the drifting clouds. Sunlight streams through, illuminating the calm water and glistening snow. Placing boats in the placid river and wildlife within the forest, Bierstadt expertly combines man and nature, achieving a celebrated balance that places his viewer on the precipice of American history during the early settlement in the West. While Mount Hood is placed in the background of the picturesque scene, its dominant presence underscores the ongoing fascination that it struck within the painter.

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