Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Bierstadt

Albert Bierstadt

Armand Cabrera

Albert Bierstadt was the greatest living American landscape painter for a brief period during the 1860’s and 1870’s. His paintings extracted prices ten times what other artists bargained for their work.

Born in 1830 in Prussia, Bierstadt’s family immigrated to the United States in 1832. Albert’s interest in art was rivaled only by his fascination with money. While still in his teens, Bierstadt contracted with artist, George Harvey, to create a traveling show of Harvey’s landscape paintings. Projected on a 15’ x 17’ theater screen, Bierstadt charged the patrons an admission of 25 cents with nightly showings.

In 1853, Bierstadt traveled to Düsseldorf for three years of art study. The trip was financed by his various business endeavors in the United States. While not formally enrolled in the academy, Bierstadt trained with some of the school’s American students, including Eastman Johnson and Worthington Whittredge.

Upon his return to the United States, Bierstadt organized his first trip to the Rockies in 1859. His skill at outdoor painting was unparalleled and he produced hundreds of studies in the field. Renting space in the now famous, “Tenth Street Studio”, Albert Bierstadt began work on his “Great Pictures”.

The “Great Pictures” were impressive theater events. Hundreds of people stood in line for the opportunity to view Bierstadt’s paintings. Admission fees were charged and the paintings toured many cities. Albert Bierstadt excelled in this world. All through the 1860’s and 1870’s, his ability to cultivate important patrons and his flair for self-promotion gave Bierstadt meteoric rise to the top of the art world.

His unprecedented rise begat the wrath of the art critics. This constant attack by the press and the rapidly changing tastes of the patrons and the American public contributed to the swift demise of Bierstadt’s art career. At his death in 1902, Albert Bierstadt was all but forgotten.

Albert Bierstadt’s significant contributions to American landscape art are unquestionable. His idealized and romantic views of an untamed continent are at the root of the American promise of opportunity.


Albert Bierstadt: Painter of the American West
Gordon Hendricks

Albert Bierstadt Art and Enterprise
Nancy Anderson
Linda Ferber

W M Chase

William Merritt Chase

Armand Cabrera

William Merritt Chase was born in Williamsburg, Indiana. His father operated a successful business as a harness maker. When William was 12, the Chase family moved to Indianapolis where his father opened a shoe store. The young Chase had always shown an interest in art. His father, understanding his son would never follow in the shoe business, took William to a local artist to study art. This was followed by a trip to New York to continue his studies at the National Academy of Design. In New York, he had some success as a still life painter. In 1871, he returned to his family who had moved to St. Louis. Chase opened a studio there. His success was not as great as it was in New York and it was only through the generosity of a few art patrons that Chase was given the chance to go to Europe to continue his training.

In 1872, Chase began classes in Munich at the Royal Academy. Chase’s success at the academy culminated with a commission by the director, Karl Von Piloty. Chase was asked to paint portraits of Piloty’s four children. This endorsement assured Chase’s success as a painter. Before returning home to America, he was offered a position at the newly created Art Students League along with his friend and fellow student, Frank Duveneck. Chase continued to teach at the League until 1896. His exceptional skills as an artist combined with his charismatic nature and unlimited energy made him an instant success as a teacher and artist in America. This vitality allowed him to teach continually at several schools, execute numerous portrait commissions, act as head of art organizations and exhibit in annual competitions.

An accomplished portrait painter, Chase was also a dedicated outdoor painter. He believed in teaching painting from life, whether it was for still life, portrait or landscape painting. Chase was the founder of the first professional American school of outdoor painting on Long Island. The Shinnecock Summer School of Art was started in 1891 and continued until 1902. Subsequently, Chase continued classes abroad and around the country and concluded his teaching in 1913---just three years before his death.


William Merritt Chase 1849-1916
Ronald G. Pisano

Summer Afternoons The Landscape Paintings of William Merritt Chase
Ronald G. Pisano

William Merritt Chase:Modern American Landscapes
Barbara Dayer Gallati


I believe in single sitting impressions. If you will acquire the ability and facility to do rapidly the thing that might otherwise cause you great trouble and time, you will place yourself in a position to record a great many things that do not last long. Nature rarely repeats itself, and one does not always find oneself in the same state of mind. It is necessary to acquire all the facility possible, so you can immediately express yourself without hesitation. ----- William Merritt Chase