Monday, 8 February 2016

Sierra Nevada (1871-73), by Albert Bierstadt

This painting by Albert Bierstadt who was an artist celebrated for his depictions of journeys during the Westward Expansion, joining many travels during his career. This particular painting is of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California; one of the most westward areas in the United States. Not many people would have visited these parts at the time of painting so would have relied on artists like Bierstadt to illustrate accurate images of these mountain ranges, lakes, etc.
Certainly there are elements of majesty and natural wonder that settlements in the East and the population in Europe would not be familiar with. For instance, the mountains reaching above the clouds could indicate a religious meaning. However the clouds to the West, and particularly the East tend to morph into a grey shade that hints the sublime. The sublime is not necessarily obvious on first viewing due to a grand mixture of colours but the trees are a much darker green than would be expected and the water moves further away from a tranquil shade of blue to a darker one.
I find it interesting also that there are no depictions of humans, only animals. This could be a suggestion that from Bierstadt that the West is a wilderness not inhabited by humans as a dominant ideology. I think it should it also be noted that Bierstadt is of German descent - he would not have seen these sights in Europe or even the East, thus explaining his motive to portray it as an extensive landscape and a site of the most natural orientation.

No comments:

Post a Comment