German-born American Hudson River School Painter, 1830-1902
Bierstadt was born in Solingen, Germany. His family moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1833. He studied painting with the members of the D??sseldorf School in D??sseldorf, Germany from 1853 to 1857. He taught drawing and painting briefly before devoting himself to painting.
Bierstadt began making paintings in New England and upstate New York. In 1859, he traveled westward in the company of a Land Surveyor for the U.S. government, returning with sketches that would result in numerous finished paintings. In 1863 he returned west again, in the company of the author Fitz Hugh Ludlow, whose wife he would later marry. He continued to visit the American West throughout his career.
Though his paintings sold for princely sums, Bierstadt was not held in particularly high esteem by critics of his day. His use of uncommonly large canvases was thought to be an egotistical indulgence, as his paintings would invariably dwarf those of his contemporaries when they were displayed together. The romanticism evident in his choices of subject and in his use of light was felt to be excessive by contemporary critics. His paintings emphasized atmospheric elements like fog, clouds and mist to accentuate and complement the feel of his work. Bierstadt sometimes changed details of the landscape to inspire awe. The colors he used are also not always true. He painted what he believed is the way things should be: water is ultramarine, vegetation is lush and green, etc. The shift from foreground to background was very dramatic and there was almost no middle distance
Nonetheless, his paintings remain popular. He was a prolific artist, having completed over 500 (possibly as many as 4000) paintings during his lifetime, most of which have survived. Many are scattered through museums around the United States. Prints are available commercially for many. Original paintings themselves do occasionally come up for sale, at ever increasing prices. Related Paintings of Albert Bierstadt :. | A Native of the Woods | Nooning on the Platte | Western Kansas | Pikes Peak, Rocky Mountains | A River Estuary, |
Related Artists:Pearson, Joseph Jr.
American, 1876-1951James Smetham
was an English Pre-Raphaelite painter and engraver, a follower of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Smetham was born in Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire, and attended school in Leeds; he was originally apprenticed to an architect before deciding on an artistic career. He studied at the Royal Academy, beginning in 1843. His modest early success as a portrait painter was stifled by the development of photography (a problem shared by other artists of the time). In 1851 Smetham took a teaching position att the Wesleyan Normal College in Westminster; in 1854 he married Sarah Goble, a fellow teacher at the school. They would eventually have six children. Smetham worked in a range of genres, including religious and literary themes as well as portraiture; but he is perhaps best known as a landscape painter. His "landscapes have a visionary quality" reminiscent of the work of William Blake, John Linnell, and Samuel Palmer. Out of a lifetime output of some 430 paintings and 50 etchings, woodcuts, and book illustrations, his 1856 painting The Dream is perhaps his best-known work. He was also an essayist and art critic; an article on Blake (in the form of a review of Alexander Gilchrist's Life of William Blake), which appeared in the January 1869 issue of the Quarterly Review, influenced and advanced recognition of Blake's artistic importance. Other Smetham articles for the Review were "Religious Art in England" (1861), "The Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds" (1866), and "Alexander Smith" (1868). He also wrote some poetry. Smetham was a devout Methodist, and after a mental breakdown in 1857, the second half of his life was marked by a growing religious mania and eventual insanity. "In one of his notebooks he attempted to illustrate every verse in the Bible." (Smetham habitually created miniature, postage-stamp-sized pen-and-ink drawings, in a process he called "squaring." He produced thousands of these in his lifetime.) He suffered a final breakdown in 1877 and lived in seclusion until his death. Smetham's letters, posthumously published by his widow, throw light upon Rossetti, John Ruskin, and other contemporaries, and have been praised for their literary and spiritual qualities. Karel van Mander
Dutch Mannerist Writer and Painter, 1548-1606
was a Flemish-born Dutch painter and poet, who is mainly remembered as a biographer of Netherlandish artists. As an artist he played an important role in Northern Mannerism in the Netherlands. He was born of a noble family at Meulebeke in modern West Flanders. He studied under Lucas de Heere at Ghent, and in 1568-1569 under Pieter Vlerick at Kortrijk. The next five years he devoted to the writing of religious plays for which he also painted the scenery. Then followed three years in Rome (1574-1577), where he is said to have been the first to discover the catacombs. On his return journey he passed through Vienna, where, together with the sculptor Hans Mont, he made the triumphal arch for the royal entry of the emperor Rudolph. In 1583 he settled in Haarlem where he lived and worked for 20 years on a commission by the city fathers to inventory "their" art collection; work that he later published in his "Schilder-boeck" (see below). While in Haarlem he continued to paint, concentrating his energy on his favorite genre: historical allegories. In 1603 he retired to the castle of Sevenbergen in Heemskerk to proofread his book that was published in 1604.