King of the Forest / Albert Bierstadt – Oil on canvas
Gilt framed oil on canvas entitled King of the Forest signed lower right by the artist Albert Bierstadt (German/American, 1830 – 1902) 47×37
Replacement Value: $4,065,000
Albert Bierstadt is considered one of the most important landscape painters of the American West, particularly of the Rocky Mountains. He was brought to America in 1832 and grew up at New Bedford, MA. In 1859 he made his first trip out west, joining Col. Frederick West Lander’s group across the Plains to the Rocky Mountains. After settling in NYC later that year, Bierstadt created paintings out of the oil studies he had made of the mountain scenery, as well as from the photographs (he took 100-200 stereoview negatives) he took of camp life and of the Sioux and Shoshone Indians encountered along the way (Indians Near Ft. Laramie,” BMFA). With his brothers Charles and Edward, he formed a photography business in NYC (active 1860-66) and the three brothers issued a catalogue of the western views. Albert’s career really took flight after a second trip to the West in 1863, during which he traveled with writer Fitzhugh Ludlow to the Colorado Rockies and the Yosemite Valley. On his return he began producing and exhibiting the huge, romantic canvases for which he would attain fame. During these years Bierstadt kept his NYC studio but also built a castle/studio with 35 rooms in Irvington-on-the-Hudson, and continued to travel frequently. He was out West again in 1868 and also revisited Europe in 1867, 1878, and 1883, spending most of his time in Venice and Switzerland. In later years he also painted wild animals of North America. In 1882, his showcase castle home burned, his majestic landscapes had fallen out of style, and both the Paris Expo of 1889 and the Columbian Expo. Expo 1893 in Chicago rejected his work. He died nearly bankrupt and it was not until the 1970s that his status as one of the great American landscape painters would be restored.