American Art

American Art

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 35. ALBERT BIERSTADT | ESTES PARK, COLORADO.


Auction Closed

November 19, 04:22 PM GMT


500,000 - 700,000 USD

Lot Details



1830 - 1902


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 artist

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

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.