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Grazing Antelope

Grazing Antelope
signed with conjoined initials 'ABierstadt.' (lower right)
oil on paper laid down on canvas
11 1⁄4 x 15 1⁄4 in. (28.6 x 38.7 cm.)
Painted circa 1863.
Gerald Peters Gallery, New York, by 1997.
Coeur d’Alene, Reno, Nevada, 27 July 2002, lot 137.
Thomas Nygard Gallery, Bozeman, Montana, acquired from the above.
Acquired by the late owner from the above, 2003.
T. Nygard, Recounting the Old West II: Important Paintings, Sculpture and Works on Paper, Bozeman, Montana, 2003, pp. 56-57, no. 64, illustrated (as Grazing Antelope, Wind River, Wyoming).
P.H. Hassrick, Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West, Norman, Oklahoma, 2018, pp. 160-63, fig. 4.13, illustrated.
New York, Gerald Peters Gallery, Bierstadt’s West, September 11-October 24, 1997, pl. 4, illustrated.
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. 

Brought to you by

Tylee Abbott
Tylee Abbott Vice President, Head of American Art

Lot Essay

Albert Bierstadt's first trip through the American West in 1859 exposed the artist to the wonders of the region that would become his most iconic subject matter. In 1863, the artist set out on his second journey West, travelling from Kansas to Oregon with the writer Fitz Hugh Ludlow. Ludlow later published an account of this adventure in his book Heart of the Continent, illustrated with engravings of Bierstadt’s paintings from the trip. Likely depicting southern Wyoming, Grazing Antelope is the only located example out of the nine original paintings executed for Ludlow’s publication.

The Pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) is one of the most unique animals in the American West, indigenous only to western and central North America. Noted for being the fastest animal native to the continent, speeds greater than 50 miles per hour, and for a single herd's migration stretching over 150 miles from Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin to Grand Teton National Park, the ungulate has long been an animal of great interest for inhabitants of the West.

Bierstadt and his traveling party were immediately taken by their first sighting of the majestic creature. As Ludlow writes, “We had been travelling less than an hour, and had crossed a wet ravine, called ‘White Ash Draw,’ between our original divide and the next further south, when we saw our first antelope. He was a mere glancing spot on the sunny side of a slope two miles off, and disappeared too soon to be resolved by the field-glass. From that time forward we were continually uncovering pairs or groups of these lovely creatures…It is perhaps no exaggeration to call the antelope the most beautiful as well as the swiftest animal of our American wilds.” (Heart of the Continent: A Record of Travel Across the Plains and in Oregon, New York, 1870, pp. 37-38)

Grazing Antelope is a rare example of the artist’s early depictions of wildlife and demonstrates his growing skill with the subject as well as his adept hand at landscape painting. Melissa W. Speidel writes, “Antelopes provides us with the opportunity to see how the original, Grazing Antelope was transcribed into the wood engraving, and when comparing the two, we see that Bierstadt’s original composition placed equal emphasis on the animals as on the landscape. In the original painting, the small herd of pronghorn antelope stands, grazes, and rests in a solidly constructed landscape.” (P.H. Hassrick, Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West, Norman, Oklahoma, 2018, pp. 160, 162) As one of the earliest examples of Bierstadt’s remarkable animal paintings, Grazing Antelope provided the American public a fascinating glimpse of the glorious wildlife inhabiting the pristine and largely unexplored region.

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