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Rocky Mountain Landscape

Rocky Mountain Landscape

Artist
Albert Bierstadt
Date of Work
1870

Rocky Mountain Landscape

"Rocky Mountain Landscape" by Albert Bierstadt

The American West was like a magnet for artists. While presidents in the White House dreamed of settling the frontier in the 19th century, a painter could still find places unspoiled by man. Artists captured the awesome beauty of nature in their landscape paintings. Using his imagination, an artist could create something better than the real world. This is what Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) did in "Rocky Mountain Landscape." Over 30 years, between 1859-1889, Bierstadt traveled through the West six different times. But when he painted this mountain scene in 1870, he had not seen the Rockies for seven years. The artist often used photographs to remind him of scenes when he later painted them. He also drew many sketches that he could later study when he was ready to work with his large landscapes (this one is three feet tall and almost five feet wide). The landscape is beautiful and mysterious, like the American frontier must have seemed to settlers of Bierstadt's time. If you think of the painting as a theatre stage, you can see how the darkened edges help focus your attention on the light at "center stage." Bierstadt took parts of nature that he had seen in many places and brought them together in one painting to create a more perfect Rocky Mountain landscape. For example, the high snow-covered peaks seen to the left of center are probably closer to the Alpine peaks he saw in Europe than those in North America. Time seems to have stopped here. In reality, of course, man would make his mark and progress would not be halted.

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