About This Artwork

Albert Bierstadt
American, born Germany, 1830–1902

Mountain Brook, 1863

Oil on canvas
111.8 x 91.4 cm (44 x 36 in.)
Signed, lower left: "A. Bierstadt"

Restricted gift of Mrs. Herbert A. Vance; fund of an anonymous donor; Wesley M. Dixon, Jr. Fund and Endowment; Henry Horner Straus and Frederick G. Wacker endowments; through prior acquisitions of various donors, including Samuel P. Avery Endowment, Mrs. George A. Carpenter, Frederick S. Colburn, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Feinberg, Field Museum of Natural History, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Harding, International Minerals and Chemicals Corp., Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Loeff, Mrs. Frank C. Miller, Mahlan D. Moulds, Mrs. Clive Runnells, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Stone, and the Charles H. and Mary F.S. Worcester Collection, 1997.365

Albert Bierstadt is best remembered for his paintings of the American West, but during his early career, the ambitious artist also created New England landscapes, particularly of the White Mountains, as seen here. When this painting was first exhibited in 1863, critics declared it Bierstadt’s “best work” and praised the artist’s deft contrast of “light and shade,” which brought a heightened realism to the image. Bierstadt’s affinity for the White Mountains mirrored a growing interest in the region as one of America’s premiere tourist attractions. Photographs of the area from the 19th century suggest that Bierstadt utilized landscape elements from the popular tourist site “The Flume” in this imaginary composition.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, National Academy of Design, Thirty-Eighth Annual Exhibition, Apr. 14-June 24, 1863, cat. 6.

Brooklyn Museum, Albert Bierstadt, Art and Enterprise, Feb. 8-May 6, 1991, cat. 36; traveled to San Francisco, Fine Arts Museum, June 6-Sept. 2, 1991, Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Arts, Nov. 3, 1991-Feb. 17, 1992.

Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, East of the Mississippi: Nineteenth Century American Landscape Photography, March 12-July 16, 2017; travels to New Orleans Museum of Art, October 5, 2017-January 7, 2018, cat. 82 (Washington D.C. only).

Publication History

Barry Gray (R.B.Coffin), New York Leader, Jan. 17, 1863.

Fitz Hugh Ludlow, New York Evening Post, May, 22, 1863.

New York Times, Apr. 24, 1963, p. 14.

Gordon Hendricks, “The First Three Western Journeys of Albert Bierstadt,” Art Bulletin, 46 (Sept. 1964), p. 363, no. 244.

Gordon Hendricks, Albert Bierstadt: Painter of the American West (Harry N. Abrams, 1974), p. 117.

Judith A. Barter et al., American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago: From Colonial Times to World War I (Art Institute of Chicago, 1998).

Steven Conn and Andrew Walker, “The History in the Art: Painting the Civil War,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 27, 1 (2001), pp. 60-81, fig. 12.

Clare Kunny and Andrew Walker, “Introduction,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 27, 1 (2001), pp. 5-6.

Angela Miller, “Albert Bierstadt, Landscape Aesthetics, and the Meanings of the West in the Civil War Era,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 27, 1 (2001), pp. 40-59, fig. 1.

Margaret Rose Vendryes, “Race Identity/ Identifying Race: Robert S. Duncanson and Nineteenth-Century American Painting, Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 27, 1 (2001), pp. 98-99.

Ownership History

Oliver Kelly, Ohio, before 1900; by descent in the family until 1989; Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York; Private collection, Los Angeles; Michael N. Altman and Company, New York, by 1997; The Art Institute of Chicago,1997.

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