Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more An American Place: The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection
Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)

Western Landscape

Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)
Western Landscape
signed with initials in monogram 'AB' (lower right)
oil on paper laid down on board
7 x 10 in. (17.8 x 25.4 cm.)
Painted circa 1870-80.
Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York.
Dr. and Mrs. Irving F. Burton, Huntington Woods, Michigan.
Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York, 18 October 1972, lot 8, sold by the above.
Acquired by the late owner from the above.
Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Beauty and Bounty: American Art in the Age of Exploration, June 30-September 11, 2011.
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

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Lot Essay

Albert Bierstadt's paintings of the untamed American West are some of the most significant historical and artistic accomplishments of the nineteenth century. Bierstadt traveled to the Western frontier as early as 1859 as part of a U.S. Government Expedition, and a few years later embarked on a seminal 1863 overland journey to California with prominent literary figure Fitz Hugh Ludlow. With inspiration from these trips and his following travels West, few could rival Bierstadt in his ability to convey the grandeur of this wondrous region to the American public.

Indeed, the remarkable and raw American landscape thoroughly captivated Bierstadt, who described it in one of the many letters he sent back East for publication in The Crayon: "If you can form any idea of the scenery of the Rocky Mountains and of our life in this region, from what I have to write, I shall be very glad; there is indeed enough to write about--a writing lover of nature and Art could not wish for a better subject. I am delighted with the scenery...We see many spots in when we look up and measure the mighty perpendicular cliffs that rise hundreds of feet aloft, all capped with snow, we then realize that we are among a different class of mountains; and especially when we see the antelope stop to look at us, and still more the Indian, his pursuer, who often stands dismayed to see a white man sketching alone in the midst of his hunting grounds." (as quoted in G. Hendricks, "The First Three Western Journeys of Albert Bierstadt," The Art Bulletin, September 1964, p. 337)

Due to the struggle of transporting materials in the field, Bierstadt almost exclusively worked with oil paints on a fine paper support when painting during his travels. In the present work, executed in this manner circa 1870-80, Bierstadt has transcribed the glorious elements he witnessed to create a picturesque composition of a serene lake in the mountainous Western wilderness. With its beautiful reflections in the water and dramatic light emerging from the misty cloud cover, the work is at once both intimate and magnificent.

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