Albert Bierstadt, “Passing Clouds Over the Mountains,” oil on canvas, 42 1/4 x 32 1/2 inches

In this ongoing series for Fine Art Today, we take a longer look at the history and features of a soon-to-be-available artwork of note. This week we highlight a Hudson River School landscape that’s sure to intrigue collectors.

Although he was born in Germany and would eventually study his craft there for several years, Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) is widely recognized as one of America’s greatest artists and was a founding member of the famed Hudson River School. Bierstadt’s parents moved to Massachusetts when Albert was just a year old, in 1831. From childhood, Bierstadt displayed a keen interest in and notable talent for art.

Bierstadt’s artistic career was officially launched around 1858, when a landscape exhibited at the National Academy of Design found instant appeal to critics. It was around this time that the artist met other like-minded artists who adored landscape painting with romantic, almost glowing light. Among them were Thomas Moran, Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, John Frederick Kensett, and Asher Durand. This group of painters would eventually be categorized as members of the Hudson River School.

Along with several other artists, Bierstadt began to travel with various companies and journeymen of the Westward Expansion. Bierstadt’s lavish views of the American West — including many areas that became national parks — enlivened the imaginations of his viewers and helped cultivate a desire to preserve these lands among the public.

Bierstadt’s financial success is noteworthy as well. In 1865, the artist’s magnificent work “The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak” sold for an astronomical $25,000, the equivalent of around $350,000 in today’s market.

It seems collectors have eagerly bought up Bierstadt’s original works since their production, and the trend continues to this day. Opportunities to purchase an original work from this iconic figure are few and far between, which makes the September 17 sale at Clars Auction Gallery in Oakland, California, significant. Heading to auction, among other works by Thomas Moran and Edgar Payne, is a fantastic original by Bierstadt titled “Passing Clouds Over the Mountains.” The painting is set at the base of a rushing mountain river, and the viewer gazes up toward the cloud-covered peaks of several mountains. In the foreground are several large evergreen trees and a brightly lit path towards the viewer’s right. Auction estimates are between $70,000 and $100,000.

To learn more, visit Live Auctioneers.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster
Andrew Webster is the Editor of Fine Art Today and works as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.

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