Nassau Harbor 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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This rich, vibrant painting was titled Nassau Harbor and was produced by Albert Bierstadt in around 1877. It is now a part of the permanent collection of the de Young Museum in San Francisco, USA.

This artwork places the artist on the beach, looking out across a busy harbor. The sand leads down to a flurry of activity, with several fishermen attempting to go about their daily lives. Several other figures walk around at a more leisurely pace, enjoying the fine weather and stunning view. The harbor itself comes in from the left hand side, with a jetty made from stone hosting a number of boats. Further out are a number of larger boats, including quite a variety of different shapes and sizes. Bierstadt seems to purposely fill each section of the sea with one vessel or another, whilst trying to avoid placing too many too close to each other. In the far distance we find a small slither of land, which is being baked by the bright sky that creeps across at the top of the composition. The clouds are fluffy and relaxed, helping to produce an atmosphere of fun and enjoyment as nature rests.

Bierstadt loved seascapes and so regularly travelled to the coast, whenever it was close by on his travels. Examples such as Nassau Harbor can help us all to learn more about the life of 19th century Americans, both in their fashion but also in how they spent their leisure time. Nassau is actually in the Bahamas, though. Bierstadt always liked to Romanticise his scenes, which some appreciated and others not. He would allow himself a reasonable level of artistic license, that is to include elements from other regions together in order to get quite the look he desired, though there is nothing to suggest that anything in this painting was not there during his visit back in the 1870s. He would also find inspiration from a number of other coastal spots in and around Nassau which feature elsewhere in his career.

The de Young Museum host a wealth of exciting and historical artworks from a variety of painters, besides Nassau Harbor found here. California Spring, also by Bierstadt, can be found here, as well as View of Donner Lake, California. They also host Grand Canyon with Rainbow by Thomas Moran and The Bright Side by Winslow Homer, in an overall display which is heavily focused on American artists to cater to the local visitors. Considering how much of Bierstadt's work was set within this state, it seems entirely appropriate that many of these paintings still reside there today. In most cases, these pieces were actually donated by local collectors who wanted more of the public to be able to view them, particularly considering their historical importance and strong connection to the local area.