Albert Bierstadt, perhaps the most famous painter who ever recorded the West of mid-nineteenth century America, was born in Germany to two U.S. citizens who had traveled there on vacation. He grew to maturity in New Medford, Massachusetts. From the mid-1850’s however his fortune was linked with travel.
Bierstadt trained as a painter, as did so many pre-Civil War U.S. artists, in Dŭsseldorf. Here he learned to value the well-turned landscape painting for which Dŭsseldorf was famous. Upon his return to the U.S. just before the outbreak of the Civil War, Bierstadt painted the New Hampshire White Mountains and established the reputation which was to earn him lasting fame.
He also traveled to the Rocky Mountains. As the Civil War tore the eastern side of the nation apart, Bierstadt recorded the life of the Rockies in the West. In fact, scenes of the West, its skies, its vastness and its romantic other-worldliness fascinated Bierstadt endlessly. Though he did occasionally paint scenes of New England and of the Civil War, his entire reputation as the man who recorded aboriginal America rests on the paintings he produced either in the Rockies or in transit to them across the vast plains of Nebraska, Colorado, Utah and Idaho.
Albert Bierstadt died in New York City on February 18, 1902.