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Hudson
River School’s painters worked between 1825 and 1870 and focused on American
landscape on their works. The Hudson River School was the first national school
of painting in the United States. Albert Bierstadt, who was also a member of
this school, was among the first artists to explore the western parts of
America and successfully paint some of the most breath-taking landscapes of the
American West. He was among those artists who experienced the Frontier myth and
through his art, he passed these historic moments to next generations. The
Frontier idea was one of the most encouraging one in American people’s search
for a national identity. Americans wanted to explore and see the beauties the
New World has to offer and create a new identity for their new nation. Albert
Bierstadt, the German-American painter was one of those enthusiastic people
traveled through the west to see the beauties and painted them. His travels
gave him an extraordinary perspective on landscape painting. His paintings have
sparked the imagination of generations. During these travels, he witnessed the
west and showed what the Frontier offered to the American people through his
art. In this paperwork, American Frontier Romance through Bierstadt’s famous
works; Emigrants Crossing the Plains
(1867), Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California (1868) and The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak (1863), will
be discussed. 

Bierstadt’s
famous work Emigrants Crossing the Plains
(1867) takes us to one of the longest journeys in the American history; the
Oregon Trail. Horace Greeley’s famous phrase “Go West young man, go West and
grow up with the country” defines this era perfectly. In 1967 Albert Bierstadt
captured this movement on canvas with his iconic work Emigrants Crossing the Plains (1867). He was a German artist who
experienced this journey on the first hand and also painted it. Bierstadt
expressed his appreciation for the American West by portraying the natural
essence of the untamed wilderness. Bierstadt not only intrigued by the vast
landscape, he was also captivated by the people in it. In this work, we not
only see the plains, mountains or trees, we also see the people who are riding
their carts through the west between mountains and forests. His work reflects
the details of the journey, the pioneers of the westward expansion in search of
a prosperous life. The painting itself gives us a glimpse into the life on the
Oregon Trail. Bierstadt was famous for his oversized oil paintings, and this
work is also one of them. This painting romanticizes the American topography.
Bierstadt was especially fascinated with the mountains and made many paintings
and sketches of the Rocky Mountains, claiming that the Rocky Mountains were
even more interesting and beautiful than the Alpine Mountains in Europe. An
aspect which truly characterizes this piece is the majestic sunset, it conveys
the feeling that something great is waiting for the immigrants on their way
through the west. This is also important because it not only reflects the
Frontier idea but also an important example of the famous idea “The Manifest
Destiny” which was invented during this period of time. So the extremely bright
light on their way to the west is a depiction of their “destiny”, meaning that
God is guiding them. Aside from the romanticized view, Bierstadt also pays
great attention to the detail. The Indian teepees can be seen in the background
and also, on the cart, the word “Oregon” is written. Bierstadt not only
successfully depicts the Oregon Trail but also shows the beauties the west has
to offer too.

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Bierstadt’s Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains,
California (1868), is a scenic canvas oil painting. It is an enormous
painting approximately six by ten feet in size. This painting is also an
idealized version of the place. His paintings combine both American and
European influences. Even though Among
the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California is a reflection of the American
West, it was painted in Rome and displayed in Berlin, London and Paris.
Bierstadt’s realistic landscape depiction can also be seen in this piece of art
as well. It depicts a photographic scene of a lake beneath the rocky cliffs of
mountains. Bierstadt’s German background in the style of this painting can be
seen. He carefully placed highlights of sun streaming from the top and with the
help of dark shadows he creates a dramatic lightning which was often used in
the European paintings as well. In this piece, the brush strokes are barely
visible and the surface is smooth, so this smooth texture provides the
photographic realism of a camera. The piece not only
depicts nature’s beauty in a peaceful quiet solitude but also lets the viewer
see and experience what life in the wilderness is like. When Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains,
California was painted in the 19th century, America began to
make small efforts to preserve and conserve the wilderness. The frontier was
seen as a place for the continuous generation of democracy, social progress and
economic and national growth. In this era, the wilderness was seen as a source
of wealth and strength drawing people to explore and experience nature.  Through paintings like Bierstadt’s, the
viewers could have this experience without having to travel a great distance.  Among
the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California depicts American Frontier
in such a realistic and idealized way that it fascinates its viewers, almost
urges people to explore what American West has to offer.

The Rocky Mountains,
Lander’s Peak is Bierstadt’s first trip to West’s major
work. Bierstadt went on a survey expedition for the United States government in
the middle of the 19th century. So he was in America when he painted
this landscape. Once again the American West is depicted in this piece of art. Nature
is depicted glorious and grand, almost sublime, overwhelming of the senses. The
Lander’s Peak in the background is soaring above everything. Teepees can also
be seen in the background once again. Realistic waterfall and a lake can be
seen in the background of this painting. The lake perfectly reflects the
surroundings above it. It looks even better than how it actually is, so it is
an idealized depiction of this area. The life in the wilderness is depicted
well in this picture and those Americans’ lives are depicted so naturally in
this piece as well. The painting simply reflects a regular day for those
people. They learned how to live harmoniously with nature. The detail in this
painting is also breath-taking. On each look, something new can be seen in the
painting. It is those details what gives life to the frontier. If we simply
look the whole, American Frontier and mountains can be seen, but as we look
closer, the painting gives us more details. The painting makes the viewers
realize how large and incredibly irresistible the American Frontier is. When
someone looks at the picture, an irresistible urge to actually explore the
beauties frontier has to offer can be felt. Bierstadt’s painting not only successfully
depicts the nature but also explores and experiences the American West.

As
a conclusion; Bierstadt made an incredible job in depicting the American Frontier.
One look through his art urges people to explore and experience these beautiful
places. Bierstadt managed to depict the actual places he visited in such an
idealized way that the American Frontier looked even more captivating for many
Americans who were looking for peace and prosperity. With the help of his art,
Bierstadt not only inspired many Americans to start their own westward
adventure with their rich colors, and incredible depictions of the landscapes
but also gave the next generations a glimpse from the earlier conditions of the
American Frontier. 

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