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    Description

    ALBERT BIERSTADT (American, 1830-1902)
    Mount Brewer from King's River Canyon, California, 1872
    Oil on canvas
    36 x 47 inches (91.4 x 119.4 cm)
    Signed lower left: A Bierstadt

    FENDER FAMILY TRUST

    PROVENANCE:
    The Buffalo Athletic Club, New York, circa 1931 (plaque verso indicates that this painting was given to the Buffalo Athletic Club in Memory of Samuel Ellis. Samuel Ellis was elected the third vice president of the club in 1925, but died in a plane crash at the age of thirty in 1931);
    Private collection;
    Private collection, Texas, circa 1970;
    Thence by descent.

    EXHIBITED:
    Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler, Texas, "Tyler Collects I: The LaVelle D. Fender Collection", January 18-April 22, 2001.

    LITERATURE:
    G. Hendricks, Albert Bierstadt: Painter of the American West, New York, p. 228, illus fig. 171.

    NOTE:
    A copy of Gordon Hendricks' letter is included with this lot. Frame is courtesy of Las Negras Studios and is available for purchase.

    Gordon Hendricks, author of Bierstadt: Painter of the American West, noted in a letter that "Mount Brewer from King's River Canyon, California, is one of the finest Bierstadt's to come into public view for some years. It has called forth the artist's best art." According to Hendricks, this painting was made from studies produced between September 13 and October 18, 1872. This angle of Mount Brewer, a 13,577 foot peak on the Great Western Divide of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, was painted from the northwest looking southeast.

    Huge clouds partially obscure the snow covered peak as they sweep across a brilliant blue sky. The snow on the mountain crest is brightly lit, while the craggy rocks and wildly bent trees in the foreground are bathed in darker tones drawing the viewer's attention to the glistening majestic peak. This dramatic use of light and shadow emphasizes the power of this grandiose landscape. The two figures on the meandering path underscore the scale and splendor of the Western landscape. Man is rendered insignificant against the forces of nature.
    For Bierstadt and other Romantic painters of the late nineteenth-century, nature represented a profound sanctuary which was in sharp contrast to the industrialization changing the face of the American landscape. With the American wilderness increasingly under siege, the beauty of a mountain scene like Mount Brewer presents nature as a place of refuge and contemplation-something unconquerable.

    Although he traveled throughout various regions of the West, Bierstadt concentrated on painting scenes of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges of California. Others painted these locations, but his epic canvases became iconic visions of the region's natural wonders. Between 1872 and 1873 he traveled in California, often in the company of Clarence King, who conducted many government expeditions of some of the West's most scenic and remote areas. One of his most compelling and lauded canvases, Mount Brewer from King's River Canyon, California, invests the natural world with a sense of awe and wonder. For Bierstadt and other members of the Hudson River School the handprint of god was found in the wilderness. The American West was something akin to Eden, a pristine and wild environment that was enticing and formidable at the same time.

    A native of Germany, Albert Bierstadt immigrated with his family to Massachusetts as a very young child. Beginning in the 1850s, the artist became a seminal figure in the development of Western American landscape painting in the tradition of the Hudson River School. His romantic and dramatic scenes of majestic mountains, wilderness lakes, waterfalls, and pristine meadows helped to define the region's grandeur. Like many American artists of German descent, Bierstadt studied at the Royal Academy in Dusseldorf, Germany (1853-1857). The school's tradition of strict academic training informed his careful attention to detail, and precise drawing.

    In 1859, Bierstadt accompanied General Frederic Lander's expedition to map and survey wagon trails in the upper Rocky Mountains. Utilizing the many field sketches, studies and photographs made on that trip, Bierstadt returned to New York and worked up large canvases in the studio. His paintings have a boundless sense of energy and movement. He frequently framed his vistas of rugged mountains with swirling storm clouds that added an extra element of drama to the composition.


    Condition Report*: Canvas is wax-lined. There are very minor specks of touch up in the sky. There is a 1 x 1 1/2 in. "L"-shaped area of restoration in the upper right quadrant of the sky (above the peak). There is a heavy and uneven varnish layer. 3" (minor) horizontal surface scratch along the lower edge of the painting. Heavy surface dirt, particularly in the lower right quadrant.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2012
    10th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 13,133

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