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 :. | Buffalo Head | Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt Rosalie | Mount Adams, Washington | The Open Glen, New England | Albert Bierstadt. painting |
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Born in Rome, he was the son of the painter Madrazo y Agudo (1781-1859), and received his first instruction from his father. While still attending the classes at the Royal Academy of San Fernando, he painted his first picture, The Resurrection of Christ (1829), which was purchased by Queen Christina. Not long afterwards he painted Achilles in his Tent, and subsequently presented to the Academy The Continence of Scipio, which secured him admission as a member "for merit".
While decorating the palace of Vista Alegre he took up portraiture. In 1852 he went to Paris, where he studied under Franz Winterhalter, and painted portraits of Baron Taylor and Ingres. In 1837 he was commissioned to produce a picture for the gallery at Versailles, and painted "Godfrey de Bouillon proclaimed King of Jerusalem". The artist then went to Rome, where he worked at various subjects, sacred and profane. Then he painted Maria Christina in the Dress of a Nun by the Bedside of Ferdinand III (1843), Queen Isabella, The Duchess of Medina-Coeli, and The Countess de Vilches (1845-1847), besides a number of portraits of the Spanish aristocracy, some of which were sent to the exhibition of 1855.
He received the Legion of Honour in 1846. He was made a corresponding member of the Paris Academy of Fine Arts on 10 December 1853, and in 1873, on the death of Schnorr, the painter, he was chosen foreign member. After his father's death he succeeded him as director of the Museo del Prado and president of the Academy of San Fernando. He originated in Spain the production of art reviews and journals, such as El Artiste, El Renacimiento, and El Semanario pintoresco. He died at Madrid in 1894.