Albert Bierstadt - The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak

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The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak
Albert Bierstadt (United States, 1830-1902)
Oil on canvas, 186.7 x 306.7 cm (73.5 in × 120.75 in)
New York, Metropolitan Museum

Born in Germany, Albert Bierstadt emigrated from Europe to Massachusetts with his family when he was just 3 years old. Originally he was part of the Hudson River School, but after several journeys to the American West he became the most representative painter of the so-called Rocky Mountain School, along with Thomas Moran. Bierstadt is the most prolific and possibly the most grandiloquent of all the American painters of his time.

In 1859, Bierstadt was part of an expedition to the Rocky Mountains led by Colonel Frederick W. Lander. The artist was deeply impressed by the landscape of the American West, and after returning to New York, he painted "The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak", often considered his most famous work.

The work depicts Lander’s Peak in Wyoming, although the landscape in the foreground is rather an idealized landscape, a silent ode to the life of Native Americans, represented as the essence of the American West. The contrast between the strong light of the background and the relative obscurity of the area in the foreground strangely reminds René Magritte’s "The Empire of Lights”.

Like Church did with his "The Heart of the Andes", Bierstadt successfully exhibited "The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak" shortly after its completion. The painting was sold for $25,000 to James McHenry, but Bierstadt later bought back the work, which passed to his brother Edward. The painting is owned by the Metropolitan Museum in New York since 1907, and hangs right in front of Church 0s "The Heart of the Andes", acquired two years later.

G. Fernández -

Bierstadt - Magritte

An impossible but irresistible comparison: detail of "The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak" (left) and Magritte's "The Empire of Lights” (right)

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