The German-American artist Albert Bierstadt is known worldwide for his stunning paintings of the American West during the mid to late 19th century. From towering mountains and vast prairies to sweeping vistas with photographic precision, Albert Bierstadt’s paintings focused on nature and its pristine form.
His paintings played the utmost significance in helping people perceive what the American West would be like. Mainly because most Americans had yet to travel west of Mississippi at that time. Also, his painting style is often described as romantic realism or luminism. His works are known for their stunning and dramatic natural landscapes, rendered with intricate detail, intense light, and vivid colors.
No doubt, Bierstadt is a great artist and has inspired a great number of artists and art enthusiasts. Today let’s learn about the artists who influenced Albert Bierstadt.
A Little about Albert Bierstadt
Bierstadt was born in Solingen, Germany, in 1830, and his family immigrated to the United States when he was just a year old. Growing up in New Bedford, Massachusetts, he showed an early interest in art and began painting as a teenager. He later studied in Düsseldorf, Germany, where he worked on his skills and developed his unique style.
It was after returning to the United States Bierstadt began to make a name for himself with his landscapes of the American West. Some famous Albert Bierstadt paintings include ‘The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak,’ ‘Yosemite Valley,’ and ‘The Last of the Buffalo’ to name a few.
Hudson River School of Artists and Thomas Cole
The prominent Albert Bierstadt was primarily influenced by the Hudson River School of artists. Founded by the famous Thomas Cole, the group derived its inspiration from names and depicted the American wilderness, particularly the Hudson River Valley.
Cole was an English-born artist who was blown away by the beauty of the Hudson River Valley, and the romantic portrayal of the American landscape characterized his artworks. Some of his most renowned artworks include “The Oxbow” (1836) and “The Course of Empire” (1833-1836).
Albert Bierstadt was profoundly inspired by Cole and became a part of the Hudson River School. His paintings started to be known for their grandeur and scale, as well as the use of light and color.
Although both Cole and Bierstadt were associated with the Hudson River School, their styles and approaches were quite different. Cole’s artworks were more romantic and idealized, while Bierstadt’s were more grandiose and realistic. But, both Cole and Bierstadt were known for their innate ability to capture the beauty and grandeur of the American landscapes. And both of their work continues to be celebrated today as a significant contribution to American art.
Frederic Edwin Church
Another member of the Hudson River School of Artists who inspired Albert Bierstadt was Frederic Edwin Church. What caught Albert’s attention was how Frederic flawlessly used light and color. His masterpieces were well-known for their incredibly dramatic use of light and color, and he often depicted exquisite landscapes from around the world. Some of his most widely known artworks include “The Heart of the Andes” (1859) and “Niagara Falls, from the American Side” (1867).
Church’s influence on Bierstadt can be seen in a number of ways. For example, both artists had a profound fascination with the natural world and often created a dramatic landscape of wilderness and nature. Moreover, Bierstadt shared Church’s interest in traveling to exotic locations to paint, and he traveled extensively throughout the American West and even went on a painting expedition to the Rocky Mountains.
That’s not all! Bierstadt was inspired by the Church’s use of light and color, as well as his keen attention to the smallest detail. In particular, Church’s work on the Hudson River School, an art movement that celebrated the beauty of the American landscape, helped to inspire Bierstadt to create his own works that captured the majesty of the American West.
As mentioned above, Albert Bierstadt’s paintings were focused on naturalism and realism. And Constable’s work inspired him to do the same. The British painter was also fascinated by painting the beauty of nature, just like Albert Bierstadt.
But what amazed Bierstadt was Constable’s use of dramatic light and vivid color. Unlike other artists, Constable took uncharted terrain and used vivid hues in comparison to the muted colors. This caught Biersdat’s attention, and he started to incorporate this technique into his paintings.
Constable’s use of plein air painting technique also inspired Bierstadt. The technique involves painting in an outdoor setting, right at the location, instead of the studio. This ensured that the artists were able to make a more realistic light composition and pay attention to detail.
The Bottom Line
Albert Bierstadt has made a significant contribution to the art world and has inspired many artists to capture the essence of nature. He was influenced by some of the best artists and incorporated techniques to create otherworldly paintings. His works never fail to remind us of the significance of preserving and appreciating the natural world. His legacy serves as a testament to the power of art to capture the essence of a time and place and to inspire generations to come.