This painting is now based at Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum with another related artwork, titled The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak to be found in the The Metropolitan museum of art in New York city. After his Colorado expedition, he made this a few years later in his New York apartment and he completed it in 1863. Although he took some sketches and photographs from the expeditions with him, he painted this mostly from his memory, which is amazing as the attention to detail on this painting is mind-boggling. From the skies to the earth this magnificent painting shows nature in all its grandness and beauty. Some of his critics said his paintings were unrealistic but one can't deny the attention to detail in his work.
Looking at the majestic picture one can see the snow capped mountain top, which is the rocky mountains of Wyoming, landers peak, towering over the painting. We can see it almost fading away into the heavy clouds and blending with the sky which is very realistic, to show his use of atmospheric perspective to create distance and make the mountains appear as though they are really far away and soaring high up close to the sky. Looking close, one can see the light rays piercing through the clouds and landing on the ground, looking at the rocky mountain sides and the detail on the rocks, cascading down, is the glacier that is thought to feed the waterfall which is at the center of the painting.
The waterfall is another very detailed part of the painting, looking at it one can see the water flowing down the mountain sides on the rocks and down to the waterfall, which is very realistic. Looking at the water on the waterfall, one can see the sun makes it brighter and it even has some misty appearance on the sides as the real ones often have. With reeds on its banks, It falls and meanders into a glacial lake below it. The glacial lake is represented as still and very clear such that when you look at it, you can see the reflection of the landscape above it with remarkable detail, not forgetting the ripples on the water close to the banks of the lake, which appears very realistic and calm.
The trees on the painting shows how much attention to detail Albert Bierstadt paid on this painting, as all the trees look very realistic and alive, if you get in close you can see a bear gazing with its cold eyes over the body of what appears to be the lifeless body of deer, the detail is amazing. The blending of color, attention to detail and creativity of Albert Bierstadt is definitely present in this magnificent painting.