Art of the American West

Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), was the 19th Century American painter who introduced the drama and sublimity of the Rocky Mountains and Yosemite to the world through six-foot by ten-foot drawing room paintings. Beginning in 1859, he made three trips west, making oil sketches on paper of the vistas he saw. When he returned to his studio in Massachusetts, he would use these sketches to paint spectacular landscapes of the unsettled west. The beauty of the views he painted generated interest in “The West,” and he quickly became the best-selling living artist of his time. His depiction of nature helped to lift American’s spirits and reaffirm emigrant hopes that the West was everything they were hoping for.

By his death in 1902, Bierstadt had fallen out of favor, and the art world had all but forgotten him. Today, however, Albert Bierstadt’s field sketches sell for five and six figures and some of his drawing room paintings for millions. It’s been over a century since his death, but he now holds a legitimate place in American art history.