Property from the Estate of Jasper Moore, Birmingham, Michigan
Albert Bierstadt (American, 1830-1902)
Early Snow in Yosemite Valley, Sentinel Rock oil on canvas laid down on masonite 54 x 84in
PROVENANCE: Newhouse Galleries, New York Jasper Moore, Birmingham, Michigan, acquired from the above, by 1970
Albert Bierstadt is best known for his mammoth, awe-inspiring paintings of the American West. The artist famously traveled throughout the West on several occasions for lengthy periods of time to amass sketches and imagery which would contribute to his studio-painted works for decades to come. With each trip, Bierstadt would head deeper into these wild territories eventually covering vast regions of Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington.
After four years of artistic study in Europe and a short stay in his hometown of New Bedford, Massachusetts, the artist's first trip which focused on exploration of the Rocky Mountains, was in 1859 to explore the indigenous peoples and the picturesque scenery. With the use of both painting and photography, Bierstadt and his travel companions were able to accumulate a large amount of available imagery to work from. Just as Hudson River School painter Frederic E. Church had done before him, Bierstadt hoped to bring a visualization of an uncharted terrain to a population unable to experience it for themselves. Meticulously, Bierstadt would use these sketches and images to create large scale canvases containing realistic elements, ultimately creating somewhat fantastical images of the Westfirst of the Rocky Mountains and later of Yosemite.
Bierstadt would return to the West for a second journey a few years later in 1863 and again for his third and final trip in 1871-73. Each of these expeditions welcomed imagery from an artist that was now intimate with Yosemite and all that the valley had to offer including dramatic light, snow and mist, as illustrated in the present work, Early Snow in Yosemite Valley, Sentinel Rock.
In the present work, Bierstadt used his quintessential layout with peaks to the left, a body of water at lower center and an area of forest and brush in the foreground at right. By establishing a distinct back, middle and foreground, the artist is able to create dynamic angles and a well-rounded composition. As mist and snow settle on the mountain tops, the work is balanced by darker pigments in the foreground. Early Snow in Yosemite Valley, Sentinel Rock is among the artist's largest compositions indicating his love of the nature and the reminiscence of his time in the American West.