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. 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.

"In 1859, Bierstadt joined an expedition to the West led by Colonel Frederick W. Lander. This work was painted for your later in New York as a tribute to Lander who died in 1862 after a distinguished military career.

Bierstadt found it fitting to name the central summit in memory of his fallen friend.

The painting was a huge success and was quickly bought by the English railroad magnate James McHenry for $ 25,000. Its beauty lies in Bierstadt's faithful delineation of the Shoshone Indian village encampment and carefully rendered foliage in the foreground with a middle-distance featuring a reflective body of water and the exaggerated snow-capped peak in the background towering over the entire scene. It perfectly embodies the idea of Manifest Destiny and appealed to the imaginations of most Americans who had only read about our untamed frontier.

The oil painting is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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. Item #386

Price: $12,500.00

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