ALBERT BIERSTADT | ESTES PARK, COLORADO
1830 - 1902
ESTES PARK, COLORADO
signed with the artist's monogrammed initials AB and dated 67 (lower left)
oil on board
11 ⅞ by 19 ¼ inches
(30.2 by 48.9 cm)
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.
The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes, Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, firstname.lastname@example.org, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's.
This work on artists' board has been restored and is in very good condition. The paint layer is slightly more complex than many of Bierstadt's smaller pictures. Under ultraviolet light, the work shows many milky and uneven colors. However, the painting is clean and undamaged. The only retouches are in the corners, and the picture proper shows no retouches at all. The paint layer has developed some cracking in the center of the left side of the sky. This cracking is not an indication of instability, and the work should be hung in its current state.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
John R. Price, Topeka, Kansas, 1880 (acquired from the above)
Richard Rhys Price, Topeka, Kansas, 1883 (acquired from the above)
Mrs. Margaret Price (née Davies), Topeka, Kansas, 1901 (acquired from the above)
Mrs. Edward Montgomery-Steele, Tucson, Arizona, 1931 (by descent)
Mr. Edward Montgomery-Steele, Jr., Tucson, Arizona, 1949 (by descent)
[with]William Steadman, Tucson, Arizona
Walter Reed Bimson, Phoenix, Arizona, 1971 (acquired from the above)
Valley National Bank of Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 2004
Tucson, Arizona, University of Arizona Museum of Art, The West and Walter Bimson: Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, 1971, pp. 161, 215, illustrated p. 26
Tucson, Arizona, Tucson Museum of Art, Arizona Collects the West, October-December 1983
Albert Bierstadt’s dramatic views of the glorious American West earned him broad popularity as one of the country’s most distinguished artists of the mid-nineteenth century. He was one of the greatest American painters to fully capture the majesty of the landscape and was one of the very few artists of the time to have traveled in the Western territories, making his paintings highly anticipated and often met with curiosity and wonder. Although other artists had preceded him in the West, Bierstadt was unsurpassed in his ability to capture the grandeur of this landscape. His idealized interpretations of the majestic lands he encountered beyond the Mississippi brought to life the image of the fabled frontier for many who would never have a means to travel there.
Bierstadt made his first trip West in 1859 when he joined Colonel Frederick Lander on a government expedition to map a route from Fort Laramie, Wyoming to the Pacific Ocean. This journey introduced him to this unspoiled landscape that would continue to inspire him and be a subject of his paintings for the rest of his life. “From his rise to artistic maturity during the late 1850s until his death in 1902...Bierstadt identified and re-identified himself with the American west” (Dr. Gerald L. Carr, “Albert Bierstadt: A Larger Perspective," Bierstadt’s West, 1997, n.p.). In the present work, Bierstadt incorporates a luminous, atmospheric quality of light to a view of Estes Park, Colorado, a base of the Rocky Mountains. Tranquility and stillness emanate from the glowing light that spreads across an unmoving body of water in the foreground and the vast clouds in the background.
The artist’s grand portrayals of the West were highly sought-after by patrons willing to pay record prices for his spectacular canvases. The scholar Edgar Preston Richardson noted that “Bierstadt was one-and one of the best-of those who discovered the grandeur of the American West and made our nation aware of it” (Painting in America, New York, 1956, p. 230). Learning from the heroic paintings of Frederic Edwin Church, Bierstadt sought to convey the romanticism at the heart of Manifest Destiny. Gordon Hendricks commented, “It was in 1864 that Bierstadt came up to, equaled, and some said, surpassed Frederic E. Church as America’s most celebrated landscapist” (Albert Bierstadt: Painter of the American West, 1974, p. 140). Estes Park, Colorado captures a heroic and pristine vision of the West that is present in all his works. There is no doubt that the work at hand attests to the artist’s desire to adapt the European ideal of the sublime to an explicitly American landscape. It is in his small scale works, such as Estes Park, Colorado, which develop the intensity found in the details of the larger paintings that define his career.