Sunrise, Yosemite Valley (1870) 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 drew Sunrise, Yosemite Valley 1870 for his love for the countryside. In his words, Albert called the Yosemite Valley, The Garden of Eden and the most magnificent place that he ever lived.

In the course of his carrier, Albert drew vast paintings of the valley, its towering mountains and all other features around him. He was in love with his environment and used his skill to show its beauty to the world. This was one of his favourite paintings of the valley. It is currently housed at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

The painting shows a valley, which is glittering from the rays of the setting sun. On the far left are steep cliffs of jagged rock that create a wall to the horizon. Below them are shrubs and short trees and what looks like grassland. This terrain continues to the riverbanks. The river is wide and calm, an indication that it is deep. Patches of trees, grass and shrubs continue on the other side until the viewer reaches the foreground. In the shadows, one can tell the kind of trees that grow in the area. A bear is seen in the grassland, a short distance from the foreground.

This image looks as if Albert photographed it rather than painted it by hand. He had exceptional attention to detail. Viewers can pick almost everything that one would find in a grassland valley. In addition, the painter has played with lights and shadows to create a realistic image of the setting sun. The golden oars of the sun reflect amazing hues and allow viewers to see each detail of the image. At one point, the critics claimed that Albert had painted the mythical city of Eldorado, which was a land of Gold. The Yosemite Valley painting was one of the images that led to a push to maintain the American natural resources for the future generations. This, in turn, led the government to set land for preservation in the Yosemite Valley.

Style of the Painting

Albert Bierstadt was a landscape painter famous for the clear, sweeping landscape of the American countryside. The genre of the landscape painting in this image is luminism. This late 19th Century style emphasised the use of light to enhance clarity in the image. The Hudson River School of painting, where Albert Bierstadt was a student, directly introduced luminism to the world of art. Other popular luminists were Fitz Hugh Lane, John Frederic Kensett and Martin Johnson. Luminism landscape images are known for their slick finish, clear colours, detailed objects and visible rays of light. They are usually in a rectangular format with a visible source of light. You may also like the work of Thomas Cole, with highlights including Voyage of Life - Youth, View on the Catskill—Early Autumn and Lake with Dead Trees.