Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point Trail 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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Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point Trail by Albert Bierstadt was painted in 1873 as oil on canvas. The painting is instantly evocative of the American Dream, depicting the sweeping landscape of Yosemite Valley, where the glacier point trail leads to a golden dawn that rises in the background.

In the foreground, on the left hand side of the painting, a tour guide can be seen with his arm outstretched, pointing towards the rising sun. Other figures on horseback also stand transfixed by this amazing natural sight, helping to draw the viewer's attention in further.

Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point Trail by Albert Bierstadt is typical of many similar artworks of the period, where the focus was on landscapes and their role in showing the vastness and potential of 1800's America. Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point Trail by Albert Bierstadt combines not only the natural beauty of the valley and its surrounding mountains, but also manages to infuse the painting with an otherworldly quality too. The sun shines so brightly in the centre of the painting, as if it is the lead focal character, the valley bathed in her golden light.

The misty background contrasts with the sharpness of the foreground, as if the painting is telling the story of the present leading to a golden future of potential and promise. As an artist, Albert Bierstadt is simultaneously able to capture the detail of the trees and mountain range so that they feel palpably real, whilst also creating a mystical background using blended purple, blue and yellow hues.

Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point Trail by Albert Bierstadt was painted after the advent of the transcontinental railway, which brought plenty of tourists to visit parks such as Yosemite. Albert Bierstadt helps to give this otherwise untouched looking landscape some historical context by choosing to add in the figures on horseback and their tour guide. German-American artist Albert Bierstadt himself was swept along with this sense of expansion, painting the landscapes of the Great American West, such as the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains.

Indeed, Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point Trail is an arresting spectacle, giving a real sense of size and depth to the scene, as if the viewer could be standing there themselves. Moreover, there is one leafless tree that ties the landscapes of the foreground and background together. It is shaped like a hand, simultaneously reaching into the future as well as being firmly rooted in Yosemite's eternal past.