Cho-looke, the Yosemite Fall Albert Bierstadt Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Cho-looke, the Yosemite Fall is an oil on canvas piece by American painter, Albert Bierstadt, created in New York city after taking sketches in the Rocky Mountains of Yosemite, North America.

These magnificent stone mountains, threaded with torrents, dominate the backdrop and disappear into the looming clouds above. The dusty grey and brown tones grow duller the further up they reach, emphasising the sheer height of the peaks and power of the falling water.

At the mountain base, a stretch of verdant grassland fills the bottom of the canvas, illustrating the life that the Yosemite Fall breathes into the surroundings. Dark, twisted trees and rugged, grey rocks border a miniscule campsite, home to indistinguishable figures. These figures sit huddled around a campfire, one under a blanket, another adding wood to a blazing fire and a third tending to it, but none have identifiable faces. The lack of detail given to the figures shifts the focus of the painting away from them and towards the grandeur of the Yosemite Fall.

The warm, romantic tones at the base of the painting showcase a staple of Bierstadt's work, which used luminism to create an air of tranquility within the scene. Despite the focal point being the mountains, the brightest point of the painting is the campfire. This draws attention, not to the individual people surrounding it, but to the fire itself and the nearby felled trees used to prop saddles upon. These details act as a representation of mankind's interference within an otherwise natural setting and the damage that can be caused to it.

This is a constant theme throughout Bierstadt's work and is shown prominently in this piece. It belongs to a collection of paintings of the Rocky Mountains and was an attempt to express encouragement for the conservation of the West and its natural beauty in the 1800s. This was in response to Americans moving West in search of new resources and opportunities and Bierstadt hoped to ensure that this progress would not be at the cost of such breathtaking landscapes.

Bierstadt's tools that he used to create the original sketches can be seen within this painting, sitting atop one of the rocks. These include his umbrella and sketching case, which were arguably his greatest tools for enacting the change he wanted to see. This painting is currently exhibited at Timken Museum of Art, San Diego, as part of their collection entitled 'America the Beautiful'. Others famous paintings by this artist include The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak, Valley of the Yosemite and Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California.