Analysis of Albert Bierstadt's "The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak"

Essay by imaGe April 2007

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The mountains of endless boundaries transcended the earth to the heavens as the water and sun created its tangibility. Dispositions of light allowed an elaborate portrayal of the perfect environment. Albert Bierstadt, a German-born, American artist, had the ability to convey such beauties of nature and its landscape through his paintings. In 1863, through a premier in the "New York Sanity Fair", his painting, "The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak", provided a different outlook on the American West. As a region styled artist, Bierstadt utilized oil-based paint on canvas in such a way that permitted his audience to not only see nature, but to feel it as well.

The variation of colors he used created an outstanding display of nature that I never thought possible. I believe his purpose was to create imagery, an illusion to the audience, as if they were looking into the American West, through his painting.

The entity of light was the key element of this painting. The form of a fine white line amid a mass of water allowed the separation of the earth and the heavens. What is intriguing about the painting is that as quickly as the earth and heaves were separated, the two joined once again at the same location. The reflection of the lake elaborated on the purity of the water and the richness of life. The contrast of dark and light colors served a great importance in his painting.

Bierstadt created the perfect gradient of dark to light colors from opposite ends of his painting. Established on land, the hue of darkness swept into the lake, but the color was only to be amplified by the light created from the sky. This line amid the water plays a powerful role in the painting where the two opposites meet...