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Lot 372: JAMES D
November 3, 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
JAMES D. SMILLIE (after Albert Bierstadt)
The Rocky Mountains (Lander's Peak).
Engravingon Chine collé on sturdy, cream wove paper, 1865-66. 655x910 mm; 25 3/4x32 inches (sheet), wide margins. Signed by Smillie in pencil, lower right. A superb, richly-inked impressions with strong contrasts.
This monumental engraving shows a Native American encampment at the foot of the Rocky Mountains where Bierstadt traveled in 1859 on a western expedition led by US Army Colonel Frederick W. Lander (1821-1862). Bierstadt created the celebrated painting (now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) on which this engraving was based four years after the expedition, following the Colonel's death during the Civil War, and named the Peak in honor of his friend.
The painting was widely admired, as it aptly captured the mystique and beauty of the American West. It was sold by Bierstadt for the hefty sum of $25,000 in 1865, prompting the artist to commission an engraving after the composition. It took James D. Smillie (1833-1909) three years to craft and publish the grandiloquent print. Bierstadt closely monitored the design of the engraving, checking in on its progress in New York, sometimes daily, and requesting frequent proofs from the engraver.