New York

Albert Bierstadt

Florence Lewiston Gallery

The small oil sketches of Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902) are of special interest in just this connection. Like Church, Bierstadt is of course best known for his big “machines,” landscapes done in the highly finished, meticulous Dusseldorf manner. There is no doubt that Bierstadt, like Church, wanted to maintain landscape at the level of dignity that had previously been associated with history painting, and it is import ant to realize that for him, as for Church, landscape—as a vehicle for the highest kind of dignity—was not considered as a pis-aller, an ultimately unsatisfactory substitute for the real thing (i.e., the mythological or Biblical scenes of traditional history painting), it was rather an equivalent of it: the image might differ, but the seriousness and nobility were the same. And so, while Bierstadt did paint such works as The Last of the Buffalo or The Discovery of the Hudson

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