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artist Albert Bierstadt Biography , history , art , photos

Albert Bierstadt

Albert Bierstadt is an artist best known for his naturalistic paintings of waterfalls, mountains, lakes and other landscapes of the American West. He was born in January 7, 1830 in the town of Solingen, Germany. Around two years later, he emigrated to America with his parents and brothers. They settled in the town of New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he became very interested in painting and photography.

“The magnificent beauty of the natural world is a manifestation of the mysterious natural laws that will be forever obscured from us.” – Albert Bierstadt.

He went back to Germany from 1853 to 1857 to study painting with the members of the Düsseldorf Art Academy in Düsseldorf, Germany. He was a painting teacher for a while before he became a full-fledged artist.

Buffalo Trail (The Impending Storm) - 1869
Buffalo Trail (The Impending Storm) – 1869

On his return to New Bedford, he held an exhibition of paintings and garnered national attention as an artist. He made more money than his contemporaries and became famous in a short while. Albert Bierstadt’s paintings can be classified as the Luminist style of the Hudson River School. This style consists of detailed paintings with romantic, almost glowing lighting aka luminism.

In The Mountains - 1867
In The Mountains – 1867

In 1859, Albert Bierstadt travelled westward in the company of a Land Surveyor for the U.S. government. Along the way, he made small sketches of landscapes that he passed. When he returned back to New England, he made large paintings of his sketches, sometimes spanning a full room. Most were around six feet by ten feet in size. He went on two more trips to the West and later married Rosalie, the wife of one the people he travelled with – a writer called Mr. Fitz Hugh Ludlow.


His paintings emphasized atmospheric elements like fog, clouds and mist. Sometimes Albert Bierstadt changed details in the landscape to make it more interesting. He also used different colors to make things look better. For example, water was painted ultramarine while grass was always lush green.

shortof the turquoisesea
shortof the turquoisesea

In his later years, his popularity fell because he refused to make paintings according to newly emerging art trends such as French Impressionism. He moved to the Bahamas where his sick wife was hospitalized. Later on, his mansion burned down, he wife passed away and he ran up a large debt coz of his extravagant lifestyle. Albert Bierstadt painted more than a thousand paintings in his lifetime that sold for a fortune. However, he died a poor man on February 18, 1902, forgotten by the art world. As an honour to him, a mountain in Colorado – Mount Bierstadt was named after him.

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