Lot 71
  • 71

Albert Bierstadt

700,000 - 1,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Albert Bierstadt
  • View of Nassau, the Bahamas
  • signed ABierstadt (lower right)
  • oil on canvas tacked over panel
  • 18 by 32 1/8 inches
  • (45.72 by 81.6 cm)
  • Painted circa 1880s.


Private collection, London, England
Sold: Phillips, Son & Neale, London, July 25, 1983
Alexander Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1983


New York, Alexander Gallery, Albert Bierstadt: An Exhibition of Forty Paintings, September-November 1983, no. 22, illustrated 


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Catalogue Note

Choosing an elevated panoramic vista of the harbor, Albert Bierstadt’s View of Nassau, The Bahamas is one of a small series of compelling works from his intermittent visits to the Bahamas from the mid-1870s to the early 1890s. Drawn immediately to the tranquility and elegance of the tropics, Bierstadt exhibited several of his Bahamas studies to visitors at his New York studio in the fall of 1877. The works from this series are singular in Bierstadt’s oeuvre, though relate most closely to his oil studies of southern Italy and Capri in the late 1850s in their focus on vibrant color and saturated sunlight. As in View of Nassau, The Bahamas, Bierstadt’s depictions of the island display a keen interest in the vernacular architecture of the harbor town as well as its lush gardens and stately sailing vessels.

In the fall of 1876, Bierstadt’s wife Rosalie was diagnosed with consumption and advised to spend the cold winter months in a more temperate environment.  It was generally accepted by the medical community that tuberculosis and climate were closely related, leading many doctors to recommend that patients seek warm weather and plenty of time outdoors.  Throughout the 1870s and 1880s, popular travel guides and magazine publications such as Harper’s Monthly frequently advertised the temperate climate and lush tropical vegetation of Nassau, referring to the Bahamas as the so-called ‘Isles of Eden.’  In the late months of 1876, Rosalie made her first trip to Nassau and was joined by her husband the following April. Though Bierstadt continued to maintain his New York studio during these years, he made frequent trips to the Bahamas until his wife’s death in the spring of 1893. During this period, Bierstadt and his wife were active participants in the elite social and art scene in Nassau and may have played a part in the December 1885 First Loan Exhibition in Nassau, possibly the first exhibition of its kind in the greater West Indies: "To the lover of art, the exquisite sketches of Mr. Bierstadt, so kindly lent by Mrs. Bierstadt whom we welcome back to our shore, are an education in themselves" (Nassau Guardian, December 9, 1885, as quoted in H.A. Cooper, Winslow Homer Watercolors, Washington, D.C., 1986, p. 148).

Bierstadt was among a number of prominent American artists to visit the Bahamas during the period. Louis Comfort Tiffany visited Nassau in 1869 and later exhibited his works from this trip in New York, Chicago, and Pittsburgh between 1870 and 1872. Thomas Moran also traveled to the islands in the late 1870s. Winslow Homer, accompanied by his father, made two trips to the Bahamas in the winters of 1884-85 and 1898-99 for a period of three months each visit. It is safe to assume that the Bierstadts and Homers were well-acquainted in Nassau, as they both were listed on the guest list of the Royal Victoria Hotel during the same winter.  These artists are the best-known American painters working in the Caribbean during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Of Bierstadt’s View of Nassau, The Bahamas and his other works from the period, the scholar William H. Gerdts wrote, “the Bahama scenes will prove an aspect of the eminent artist's work that deserves greater recognition” (as quoted in El Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, https://www.museothyssen.org/en/collection/artists/bierstadt-albert/street-nassau).

We thank Melissa Webster Speidel, President of the Bierstadt Foundation and Director of the Albert Bierstadt catalogue raisonné project, for her assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.