Mt. Baker from the Fraser River 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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Mt. Baker from the Fraser River is a lesser known artwork attributed by some to the artist Albert Bierstadt. It is loosely dated at circa 1890, placing it towards the end of this artist's career.

Bierstadt would construct a triangular format here, with the main mountain peak reaching up in the centre of the composition. Light then saturated across that region, bringing it to life and pulling in our attention straight away. Several smaller peaks are then dotted around it, creating the mountain range which the artist no doubt had specifically chosen to paint. He would travel all across the country in search of scenes such as this and really helped to promote the beauty of the nation to those abroad. For many Americans, his art was a way of appreciating their own nation when perhaps they themselves were unable to travel to these particular locations and Bierstadt tapped into this market, profiting from feeding them exactly what they wanted for a number of years.

We do not have a huge amount of information on Mt. Baker from the Fraser River, the painting, other than it was a relatively small artwork, perhaps just around half a metre in width. That said, it was large enough for Bierstadt to implement a large amount of detail across the canvas. He varied the sizes of his canvases across his career, sometimes working in this approximate size, and then also going for much larger canvases for his particular favourite designs. He might discover something that he liked and then reproduce it in larger form within his studio, but those would take much longer and so he would not sink time into these projects too often. We do know that actually there were several different compositions with the same title of Mount Baker from the Fraser River, with an alternative version actually being in portrait format.

Bierstadt helped to establish the Hudson River School as one of the most important art movements to have come from the US. It would bring about a greater international interest and respect for art from this country, and also started the process of America becoming a hotbed of new talent, rather than simply following in the footsteps of European artists as it had done previously. He would be joined by a number of other likeminded individuals who helped to give Americans a greater pride in their surroundings, and encouraged them to travel around the wilderness more frequently. Today they sit favourably within the history of landscape art, bringing the extraordinary environment of North America to this much loved genre.