The painting Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise was made by the German American artist Albert Bierstadt in 1889. It is one of Bierstadt’s smaller works, and it shows the “Diamond in the Wilderness” which is how the Lake Louise is also known.
The Rockies was one of Bierstadt’s favorite subjects. When traveling through the American West, he made many sketches of the sceneries so that he could later transform them into mesmerizing masterpieces. This particular canvas has small dimensions, which means it might be one of Bierstadt’s sketches.
The color palette constitutes of shades of blue, green, and some earthy tones. In the foreground, there is the Lake, and in it, there is a fallen tree. The direction the dead tree is pointing to is the same as the vanishing point of the Rocky Mountains. The whole composition converges to the right side of the canvas, precisely behind a pine tree in the foreground.
On the right side of the picture, we can see a mountain covered in forest. Its color is similar to the waters’ tonality. In the background, the mountain range extends itself into the distance. Bierstadt used the aerial perspective with mastery in his works. Here this technique of adding the sky palette to the further objects, in this case, the mountains gives a stronger sensation of distance. The painting gains depth and looks even a bit idyllic.
The sky is clear, and the bright blue almost mixes with the white peaks. This is not the most common rendering style for Albert Bierstadt. In his most famous paintings, he liked to depict setting suns. By doing so, he was able to transform the landscapes into paradisiac sceneries. This is an approach commonly seen in the Romantic works, which was a style that Bierstadt adopted while studying in Germany, from 1853 till 1858. The search for the sublime of the Romanticism can be seen more clearly in Bierstadt’s sunsets.
Considered by some as his masterpiece, the canvas The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak was his first monumental rendering of the Western American scenery. Which serves as an example of the unfolding the small sketches, such as this work, Canadian Rockies, had. However, it did not become one of Bierstadt’s more massive oil paintings, which were sold by incredible amounts of money for the time. Even though he was considered a celebrity during his life, his works were almost forgotten after his death, being rediscovered in the 60’s with an exhibition of this small-scale paintings.
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