Untitled Document

Artist Biography

Born of humble circumstances near Dusseldorf, Germany, Albert Bierstadt’s family immigrated to the United States when he was two years old. Apparently self-taught, Bierstadt advertised himself as a painting instructor as early as 1850. In 1853, he returned to Europe, where he traveled extensively and attended the Dusseldorf Art Academy for formal training. His encounters in Germany with American painters Emanuel Leutze, Worthington Whittredge, and Carl Friedrich Lessing prompted him to emulate their highly finished style of heroic landscape painting. In 1856, he traveled with Whittredge to Rome and the inspirational mountains of Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. He returned to the United States, to his hometown of New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1857, and organized an exhibition of paintings, including fifteen of his works based on European sketches. The exhibit brought him national attention.

In 1859, Bierstadt joined a government company on a survey expedition to the territories of Colorado and Wyoming. The artist made sketches of the new surroundings for a series of large-scale landscapes of the American West. Bierstadt wrote of the Rocky Mountains: “The mountains are very fine...[they] present a scene which every lover of landscape would gaze upon with unqualified delight.” On his return, Bierstadt moved to New York City, where he painted a series of landscapes that secured his position as America's leading painter of the Western scenery.

Bierstadt enjoyed enormous success for the next decade, and his vision of the American wilderness captured the imagination of the public and hailed him as the preeminent landscape painter in the country. Bierstadt's paintings are found in renowned institutions and collections across the United States and abroad including: the United States Capital, Washington DC; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Museum of American Art, Washington DC; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia; The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, and the Imperial Palace, Berlin, Germany.