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Albert Bierstadt

(American, born Germany, 1830–1902)

Swiss Mountain Scene

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Object Details

Artist

Albert Bierstadt

Date

1859

Medium

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

23 1/2 x 33 3/8 inches (59.7 x 84.8 cm)

Credit Line

Acquired through the Museum Associates Purchase Fund

Object
Number

71.106

Born in Düsseldorf, Albert Bierstadt’s family moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts when he was two y(…)

Born in Düsseldorf, Albert Bierstadt’s family moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts when he was two years old. Largely self-taught, he eventually made several trips to Europe, spending considerable time in Venice and Switzerland; he was especially impressed with the mountainous landscape of the latter. Shortly after his return from Switzerland, Bierstadt embarked on the first of a series of trips (1859-1881) to the western United States. It was his depictions of the “Wild West,” romanticized and idealized for Eastern drawing room walls, for which he is best known. Swiss Mountain Scene marks that critical moment in time when Bierstadt has returned from Switzerland, before making his first trip to the West. In this painting, many hallmarks of his style are evident and were to be repeated in his depictions of the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevadas: mountains, with their peaks sharpened and crevices deepened, figures placed prominently in the foreground, and an overall sense of beauty and majesty without the dangers of the wilderness. Works such as this and his later depictions of the West were actively collected until the 1880s when taste changed and the more atmospheric French Barbizon School of landscape painting came into vogue. (From “A Handbook of the Collection: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art,” 1998)

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