The sea would feature within many of this artist's work but what makes this painting so interesting is the historical content that it seeks to recreate. We find figures celebrating on the beach, saturated in bright sun as their large ships rest in the far distance. We have here a meeting of two very different peoples, and Bierstadt indicates the other as they stare confusingly at their new visitors. The natives are in the shade, perhaps symbolically, whilst Bierstadt then decorates the scene with a variety of exotic plants and trees which are dotted either side of the main groups of people. One would look at this painting with differing emotions today, because of how historical events such as this are now viewed by many in the mainstream. That said, it is still an important event that was right to be painted, and compositional and technically, it is well executed by the artist.
Bierstadt had travelled to many nations by this point in his career and also seen most of the US. He would merge elements of these different environments together in order to create romanticised scenes, and some critics did not like this lack of accuracy. The public seemed less concerned and he was able to sell most of his artworks relatively easily once his reputation had reached a certain point. This was someone who loved the outdoors, and used his passion for it to inspire most of his landscape paintings. Today, the majority of them have been snapped up by major art galleries and museums across the US. Those interested in landscape art might also appreciate the work of Church, with titles such as Cotopaxi, The Heart of the Andes and Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.
The Landing of Columbus is believed to reside within the permanent collection of the City of Plainfield, New Jersey, with the city itself owning the piece. This enormous piece measures 182.9cm in height by 307.3 cm in width, making it one of his largest paintings. He became more ambitious in that sense towards the end of his career, choosing to release fewer, but larger artworks and focus more on quality and precision, having already covered so many landscapes in a variety of ways right across his career. This is a common scenario in an artist's latter years where they are financial secure and seeking to work on particular topics that interest them, rather then having to pander to the tastes of the public or individual collectors.