Indians in Council, California 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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Albert Bierstadt was passionate about the lives of the American Indians and would feature them many times across his extensive career. This painting was titled Indians in Council, California and was completed in 1872.

Bierstadt worked on this piece during a period which focused on Yosemite and Sierra Nevada. You will find many other famous examples from his work in the 1870s within this site, but this particular painting holds several unique elements which make it of real interest. Some other excellent examples to check out include Yosemite Falls, Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains California and also Half Dome Yosemite Valley. His achievements here would also encourage others to visit these regions, as well as for some artists to try out landscape painting for the first time. Additionally, others abroad would realise the potential for the art world which existed in the US and that within a century or so, Europe would no-longer be the dominant force any more.

This painting measures 55cm in width and 40cm in height, making it relatively small for a detailed landscape. The artist would sometimes adapt his medium and materials depending on the environment in which he was working, such as outdoors in the wilderness, or perhaps working from drawings in a more accessible home studio. Whilst producing many of his paintings indoors, the artist truly understood the outdoor environment and would camp within it many times across his lifetime. He could, therefore, spot certain intricate details about a location that the rest of us would normally miss and some of these would make it into the final work. Further on from that, he also recognised how Indian life was slowly dying away and he wanted to capture as much of it as he could, whilst the possibility still existed.

Indians in Council, California can now be found in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.. This highly significant art gallery helps to tell the story of the nation through art from the past few centuries and few artists have done it better or more precisely than Albert Bierstadt. You will also find other notable members of the Hudson River School with this institution, who entirely recognise the importance of the group as a whole who were one of the first respected art movements to have come from the US, rather than Europe. The way in which they also captured scenes of this beautiful country would also deliver a further feeling of pride which remains very much the same today. Additionally, Bierstadt's affection for the Indians feels much more palatable to today's audience, considering the changing nature of western society's relationship with its recent past.