Sierra Nevada and California

Freshman (College 1st year) ・Art ・MLA ・4 Sources

Albert Bierstadt's Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California is a scenic watercolor oil portray that is displayed in the National Museum of American Art in Washington, DC. The portrait was fashioned in 1868 with a excessive romanticism typical of Bierstadt who was carried out to his audience with an idealized view of Western America. It shows a specific landscape of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. It gives an epic skyline and vivid foliage in the midst of a range of mountains.

Albert Bierstadt was born in the year 1830 in Germany and later moved with his family to New Bedford, Massachusetts He studied art in Dusseldorf, Germany and become an artist from an early age by creating crayon sketches from an early age and later at the age of 21 started making oil paints. He traveled by connecting the U.S. and Europe in the significant part of his life and did only paintings for private collectors and also taught for a short time (Miller 45). He moved through the West from 1859 to 1889 and derived inspiration from these occasions for most of his paintings (Miller 45). He mostly visited together with his brother who was a photographer through various journeys across the US that also contributed to his dramatic depictions of the nature of people portrayed from the East. Furthermore, his paintings are considered a combination of the influences derived from both Europe and America though much of the 19th-century work consisted of historical events and their mix of realism. Most of the paintings are known to depict mountains with an Alpine flavor which is related to his background in Germany and therefore crowned as leading American scenery from painters in the nineteenth century and gained fame in both Europe and US (Miller 72). He tried to deal with a subject that was conventional in America through the realism that was established from his paintings that adopted a style from Germany.

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Although the painting is a manifestation of the American West, it was painted away from the U.S (Honour and Fleming 1). It was considered as one of the paints that helped strengthen the notion if America as the Promised Land during the time of immigration for the Europeans as they hoped to find rest and a better life in the new country (Bierstadt 1). After creation in Rome, the painting was showcased in Berlin, London depicting the most spectacular scene of a lake flowing beneath the rocky cliffs of a mountain appearing like a photograph instead. There were glowing reviews that were made in the painting when Bierstadt offered it to the American audience through the natural splendors within their nation. The foreground containing short grasses and the lake is smooth and darker amongst the trees while scenery progressively appears impressive amongst the mountains (Bierstadt 1). The images of the mountains are mirrored in the lake below that is seen to break through the dark clouds of a summer storm. There is a small waterfall towards the lower center of the mountains that empties into the lake (Bierstadt 1). The hill is displayed in such a way that it almost touches the clouds making the cliffs to appear smooth with some darker and covering the further right and left corners giving another beautiful effect to the painting.

Concerning the style of painting, there is an evidence of his German background consisting of unquenchable personal energy and sociability (Honour and Fleming 1). There is a beautiful contrast that is created by light and dark shades through the gorgeous presentation if the sky against the mountain. Looking at the picture, it completely breathes taking since you cannot differentiate between a live photo at first sight since it displays something unique as compared to other paintings (Bierstadt 1). The details of the art are well carved out with the light from the sky on top dark mountains and the lake underneath. With oil painting, there is mostly the visibility of brush strokes as one layer is placed on top of the other but it is not the case with the Sierra Nevada artwork. In this piece, the brush strokes are almost not visible with the surface creating a smooth texture that portrays photographic-like scenes depicting the use of an American style through the creation of the artwork. Also, it makes a visibility of swirling clouds giving a sense of life and breath to the picture alongside the meticulous details provided (Bierstadt 1). Even though it is considered a figure of surrounding nature, it offers an opportunity to the audience to depict life with the curved shape of trees and mountains and presence of few animals alongside the shows of the lake; the waterfall amidst the hills seems to be flowing even through the painting (Bierstadt 1). It forms the reality of nature primarily through the inclusion of the yellow color within the sky’s background and the Doers by the edge of the lake depicting life and its warmness.

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The perspective of the viewer is drawn to the painting and the physical features portrayed therein. It gives an opportunity to the audience to view the presented part of nature either up from the sky or upon the edges of the lake while enjoying the beautiful and magnificent sceneries (Honour and Fleming 1). One of the major factors that are shown to portray the beauty of the painting is the lighting used as from the rays of the sun hidden somewhere in the sky. It allows a reflection of the surrounding scenery from the shinning, glass-like surface of the lake (Moser). The landscape is manipulated in such a way that the viewer can get a vantage view to help see all the physical features from one point that may not be possible physically in nature.

The painting, ‘Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains’ in California allows for the reflection of the surrounding scenery and displaying of the beauty of nature to ensure that it gives an experience of the solitude of peace and quietness in that environment. Consequently, the painting had a significant impact in America in the 19th century since it made an influence on their actions in preserving wildlife (Moser). Also, there arose people like George Perkins Marsh who was a writer that gave a warning about the destruction of America’s resources through his book, man and Nature in 1864 (Moser). The concern led to Theodore Roosevelt taking up the challenge and established national parks, forests and reserve for wildlife as a way of conserving the environment. These places were then known to continuously pleasure as they were viewed as a source of wealth as people explored and experienced nature. In this way, the painting such as that portrayed by Bierstadt gives an opportunity to experience the peace of life without having to travel across the world.

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Works Cited

Bierstadt, A. "Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains.[image] Available at: http://www. amazon. com/Albert-Bierstadt-Sierra-Mountains-Canvas/dp." B00BKD722K [Accessed 15 Jan. 2015](1868).

Honour and Fleming. The Visual Arts: A History. Prentice Hall: New Jersey, 2000.

Miller, Angela. "Albert Bierstadt, landscape aesthetics, and the meanings of the West in the Civil War era." Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 27.1 (2001): 40-102.

Moser, Joann. "Smithsonian American Art Museum." (2013).

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