The Rocky Mountains (Lander's Peak). Albert Bierstadt.
The Rocky Mountains (Lander's Peak)

The Rocky Mountains (Lander's Peak)

New York: Edward Bierstadt, 1866. Item #386

Image size including text: 425 x 705 mm., (16 3/4 x 27 7/8 inches). Steel engraving by James Smillie after a painting by Albert Bierstadt that was completed in 1863.  Signed in Pencil by both Bierstadt and Smillie. A few brown spots removed by expert paper conservator.  Excellent condition.    


 “This painting is the major work that resulted from the artist's first trip to the West. His intention to create panoramic views of the American frontier was apparent by December 1858, just before he embarked on the trip. In early 1859 he accompanied a government survey expedition, headed by Frederick W. Lander, to the Nebraska Territory. By summer, the party had reached the Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains in what is now Wyoming. Bierstadt dubbed the central mountain in the picture Lander's Peak following the colonel's death in the Civil War. This was one of a number of large works painted after Bierstadt's return from these travels. It was completed in 1863, exhibited to great acclaim, and purchased in 1865 for the then-astounding sum of $25,000 by James McHenry, an American living in London. Bierstadt later bought it back and gave or sold it to his brother Edward”  (MMA)


 Due to its huge popular success, Bierstadt immediately asked James Smillie, America's premier engraver, to produce an engraving. However, it was not until December 1866, after three laborious years in the making, that this engraving was published.


 The advertisement for the print issued by James Smillie in 1866 reads in part:


             "This picture possesses a geographical and historical value, such as few works by


            modern artists have obtained. Nor will time destroy its worth, but rather add to it. It


             is not only a correct representation of a portion of our country of which we as yet


             know comparatively little; but it introduces into it the every-day life of that race


             which, before the advance of civilization, fades away like the mists of morning


             before the rays of the rising sun. Their customs and habits through it will be


             preserved when, perhaps, the scene which it depicts, will no longer echo to the ring


            of their war-cry, or mark their stealthy step following in the chase. Upon that very


            plain where now an Indian village stands, a city, populated by our descendants, may


             rise, and in its art-galleries this picture may eventually find a resting place."


 Nancy Anderson and Linda S. Ferber, Albert Bierstadt Art and Enterprise, pp. 272-273, number 77, illustrated figure 80. Brucia Witthoft, “The History of James Smillie’s Engraving after Albert Bierstadt’s The Rocky Mountains,” American Art Journal, vol. 19, no. 2 (Spring 1987): 40-1.   https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/10154 

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Price: $7,500.00

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