On May 28th, 1884 Albert and Rosalie Bierstadt embarked on a transatlantic voyage to England aboard the S.S.Gallia, one of several trips the Bierstadts made which permitted the artist to study the grandeur of the icebergs spotted while aboard ship. In the present painting Bierstadt depicts a massive iceberg floating within a surrounding environment of blue-gray sea and sky. A commanding focal point of the composition, the imposing scale of the subject is further emphasized by the inclusion of a smaller iceberg set on the distant horizon line.
"Although Bierstadt's rival Frederic E. Church was the first to depict icebergs on a grand scale (The Icebergs, 1861, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Texas) another artist, William Bradford should have been more influential in alerting Bierstadt to such subjects. From the late 1860's through the early 1880's, Bradford, a close friend and co-occupant of Bierstadt's New York studio and a fellow exhibitor at New York clubs, was artistically identified with arctic scenes." (Gerald Carr, Albert Bierstadt:An Exhibition of Forty Paintings, Alexander Gallery, New York, 1983). The scene is set at twilight, the sky awash with pale hues of lavender and pinks against the blue-white of the iceberg. In Iceberg, Bierstadt pays hommage to the pristine serenity of William Bradford's twilight artic scenes as well as the stark drama of Frederic Church's famous oeuvre.
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