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Albert Bierstadt (1830 - 1902)

Lot 24024: ALBERT BIERSTADT (American 1830-1902)

Heritage Auctions

October 29, 2004
Dallas, TX, US

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ALBERT BIERSTADT (American 1830-1902)
Monterey, California, c. 1890-1892
Oil on paper mounted on board
13.5in. x 18.5in.
Framed in an antique frame
Provenance: the artist; gifted to his wife, Rosalie Osborne Ludlow Bierstadt, Waterville, New York; by descent in the family; [Sotheby's New York, May 21, 2003, lot 200 as part of Ten Views: A Set of Paintings]

Monterey, California was one of a set of ten works on paper that renowned landscape artist Albert Bierstadt assembled and gave to his wife Rosalie as a gift. According to Gerald Carr, "Bierstadt probably painted this ensemble of ten, same-size, broadly brushed oil studies late in his career, between ca. 1890 and 1892." From 1871 to 1873 Bierstadt and Rosalie were in California. They took up residence in San Francisco, and Bierstadt made sketching excursions to the most remote areas of the Sierra Nevada and down the coast as far south as Monterey. Rosalie often accompanied Bierstadt on his painting excursions and the painting group likely depicts locales that were particularly dear to her heart, including Niagara Falls, the Bahamas, and Monterey.

The present work, Monterey, California shares similarities with Bierstadt's monumental Settlement of California, Bay of Monterey, 1770, 1876, which was purchased in 1878 along with Discovery of the Hudson River, 1874 to hang in the United States Capitol Building.

Monterey, California and the larger version in the Capitol both depict the European discovery of the west coast by showing white-man explorers at worship under a large cross near a tree in an open and a rolling hillside that leads to the bay. Like many of Bierstadt's works on paper, Monterey, California appears more spontaneous and less contrived than its grandiose counterpart. Monterey, California does not bear the same overt allusion to Christian man's manifest destiny, instead the composition is more subtle, and shows a small group of natives observing the explorer's ritual from afar. Emphasis is not on the religious ceremony, rather it is on the natural beauty of the rolling landscape and open expanse of Monterey Bay, more in keeping with what Bierstadt might have experienced first hand.

In 1859, Bierstadt joined a government company on a survey expedition to the territories of Colorado and Wyoming. The artist made sketches of the new surroundings for a series of large-scale landscapes of the American West. On his return, Bierstadt moved to New York City, where he painted a series of landscapes that secured his position as America's leading painter of Western scenery. Bierstadt enjoyed enormous success during the next decade, and his vision of the American wilderness captured the imagination of the public and hailed him as the preeminent landscape painter in the country. Bierstadt's paintings are found in renowned institutions and collections across the United States and abroad, including the United States Capital, Washington D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Museum of American Art, Washington D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia; Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Corcoran Gallery, Washington D.C.; and the Imperial Palace, Berlin, Germany.

Artist or Maker

ALBERT BIERSTADT (American 1830-1902)

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American Art Auction

Heritage Auctions
October 29, 2004, 12:00 AM EST

Dallas, TX, US

For Sale from Heritage Auctions