Quote from Wikimedia Commons: Albert Bierstadt enjoyed great success in the years surrounding the Civil War, producing finely detailed vistas of nature’s splendor in majestic canvases that were similarly invested with significance beyond their surface appearance.
The first technically advanced artist to portray the American West, Bierstadt offered to a rapidly transforming nation pictures whose spectacular size and fresh, dramatic subject matter supplied a visual correlative to notions of American exceptionalism, while also contributing to the developing concept of Manifest Destiny.
Trained in the highly finished manner of the Düsseldorf Academy, Bierstadt’s precise style imbued his works with a reassuring sense of veracity despite their sublime subjects and occasional liberties with geographic reality. In Mount Adams, Washington, he characteristically combined an impressively scaled natural background with a foreground view of American Indian life, which serves to heighten the picture’s putative realism even as it enhances its exotic appeal.
The implied movement of the clouds and the sunlit figures on horseback similarly off to the right seems to open up the depicted space for the viewer to inhabit, providing an apt pictorial metaphor for the actual occupation and exploitation of the West by the eastern interests that constituted the artist’s clientele.
Credits and Attributions:
Mount Adams by Albert Bierstadt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:1875, Bierstadt, Albert, Mount Adams, Washington.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:1875,_Bierstadt,_Albert,_Mount_Adams,_Washington.jpg&oldid=272380899 (accessed March 9, 2018).