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 :. | Yosemite Valley | Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt Rosalie | Hetch Hetchy Valley | Haying, Conway Meadows | Estes Park |
Related Artists:Joseph Caraoud
Henry Benbridge born October 1743 died February 1812), early American portrait painter, was born in Philadelphia, the only child of James and Mary (Clark) Benbridge. When he was seven years old, his mother, who had been left a widow, was married to Thomas Gordon, a wealthy Scot. The boy's artistic talent was encouraged. He made decorative designs for his stepfather's drawing-room which were much admired. When he was fourteen years old he may have watched John Wollaston paint Gordon's portrait. It has been plausibly argued that young Benbridge had instruction from Wollaston, since his earliest known portrait, that of his half-sister Rebecca Gordon, "seems to hark back to Wollaston." When he was 21, Benbridge was sent to Italy, where he studied with Pompeo Batoni and Anton Raphael Mengs. In 1769, on commission from James Boswell, biographer of Dr. Samuel Johnson, he made a portrait of Pasquale Paoli in Corsica which he took to London. It was exhibited (1769) at the Free Society of Artists, and from it three mezzotints were scraped and published with the artist's name signed "Bembridge." Like other young Americans he was encouraged by Benjamin West. He wrote, on December 7, 1769, to his stepfather: "Upon my arrival I waited upon Mr. West who received me with a sort of brotherly affection, as did my cousin, Mrs. West." Impelled, apparently, by a longing to rejoin his family, he left England in 1770, bearing from West the following note of recommendation to Francis Hopkinson: "By Mr. Benbridge you will receive these few lines. You will find him an Ingenous artist and an agreeable Companion. His merit in the art must procure him great incouragement and much esteem. I deare say it will give you great pleasure to have an ingenous artist resident amongst you."
Elizabeth Ann Timothy (Mrs. William Williamson), watercolor on ivory of 1775In Philadelphia Benbridge married a Miss Sage and was admitted on January 18, 1771, to membership in the American Philosophical Society, of which Benjamin Franklin was a founder. He painted the large portrait of the Gordon family, with six figures, one of his masterpieces. Suffering, however, from asthma, he sought a more congenial climate and moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where he succeeded Jeremiah Theus (d. May 18, 1774) as the popular portrait painter of South Carolina. There he made many likenesses of southern men and women, several of which have been popularly attributed to John Singleton Copley, an artist who never painted in the South and who left America in 1774. Around 1800 Benbridge settled in Norfolk, Virginia, whence he made frequent visits to his native city. At Norfolk he gave to Thomas Sully his first lessons in oil painting. He had previously instructed Thomas Coram of Charleston. Sully describes his master as "a portly man of good address - gentlemanly in his deportment." Benbridge's health is said by Hart to have declined in middle age. Dunlap's assertion that his last years were passed "in obscurity and poverty" has been disputed.Carlton Alfred Smith,RI,RWS