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California Redwoods can be found within the collection of the St Louis Art Museum in the US. It was painted by Albert Bierstadt in 1872, at which point he would have been in his early forties and starting to establish himself as a respected artist.
The artist skillfully uses light within this artwork, as the sun just starts to sink below the horizon. In the foreground we see three strong redwoods on which the painting is titled, and further back we find a wealth of shrubery set against the rising face of a mountain. The composition is slightly unusual for this artist, and perhaps here he was purposely attempting to innovate and experiment. Normally his compositions would be entirely open, with tall features placed on the sides rather than directly down the middle. The position of the sun in this piece allows the artist to bring in bright colour tones within the sky, but also to make use of long shadows in the foreground which brings a good amount of variety to the painting. He would sometimes sit and study individual trees, sketching as he went and could then incorporate these details into larger paintings such as the one here.
The artist would travel around the country looking for suitable locations from which to work, but rarely completing any paintings outdoors. Normally he would work from his studio, normally from simple sketches that he made whilst travelling around. This method worked best for him and was the normal approach for most landscape painters across the past few centuries. He did feel it important to actually be in and around these environments, though, in order to really understand and appreciate them, and so would never have worked directly from a photograph, for example, if he had not actually visited the region personally. Later on he would also travel to Canada and Europe as he sought new ideas for his work and very much liked to encounter new cultures along the way which helped to make his work more varied and interesting.
Head to the Saint Louis Museum if you wish to see this piece in person. The work of Bierstadt is very widely dispersed across the country, but thankfully he was a highly prolific artist, meaning that there is plenty of items on display in most parts of the country. Some paintings have fallen into private collections, but a great amount still reside today in public collections, allowing the public to see and learn from his achievements all year round. Bierstadt's career was important in teaching the world about the beauty of the American West and also alerting others as to the qualities of artists within this part of the world.