May 13 Art Minute: Albert Bierstadt, “El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, California”

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Albert Bierstadt (American, 1830–1902), El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, California. Oil on canvas, 1875. 32 3/16 x 48 1/8 inches. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Rike, 1959.18. Gallery 29B

In the 19th century the wonders of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains (“America’s Alps”) and the Sierra Nevadas in California were largely known to Americans in the East only through travelers’ accounts and paintings by intrepid artists. Though not the first artist to paint these mountains, Bierstadt’s majestic paintings spurred tourism to the West and helped spark the movement to preserve national lands. Bierstadt’s views of the monumental cliff face of El Capitan helped make this the most recognized site in the Yosemite Valley. These paintings reminded city dwellers of the untamed beauty of the American wilderness, providing a sense of identity for the young nation.

Related Program

Lecture | Terry Seidel, ”Artists, the Landscape, and the Creation of the National Park System”

May 15: 2 p.m., Little Theater
Terry Seidel, director of land protection for the Nature Conservancy of Ohio, discusses the role that artists played in the creation of the National Park System, featuring works from the Toledo Museum of Art exhibition The American West: Photographs of a New Frontier, and paintings from the Museum’s permanent collection. Seidel also compares these images of the western United States with historic depictions of Ohio and what the state looks like today. (This program was rescheduled from its original March 27 date.)

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