Half Dome, Yosemite is an oil painting from around 1866, made by Albert Bierstadt. It shows one of the most important attractions of the Yosemite Valley: the Half Dome. This is how the rock formation, which appears on the background of the compositions, is called because of its shape, which is round, resembling a Dome but only on one of its sides.
Bierstadt didn’t do like the Impressionists, who painted outdoors and sought to capture with fidelity the natural light. First of all, his works were made in his studio. In order to render these landscapes, which he saw during his visits to the American West, he made drawings and sketches in the location. Later he would pass it to the canvases, usually in monumental dimensions.
And secondly, his interest while painting the landscape was not on rendering it as it is. Bierstadt made several paintings of the scenery of the American West in which the land looks like it is part of a biblical passage, for the light is so incredibly painted, that it appears magical. This style of painting landscapes with an improvement of the natural light was characteristic of the Luminism.
Artists like Bierstadt, who had an incredible technique and focused on spreading the natural beauties of the Western United States of America, were able to earn recognition during this period of the 19th century. This changed a little after the Impressionists managed to be respected as painters.
Bierstadt’s works show almost no evidence of brush strokes. This never stopped him from selling his paintings, even when the Impressionist style was more valued, but it certainly made it a little difficult for him to sell the works for the same amount as before.
In 1863 the artist went on one of the West Expansion’s journeys to the Yosemite Valley. There he made the sketch that would later become this amazing artwork. In it, the landscape shows a view from a riverside. Many of the vegetations have brownish tones, especially in the foreground. In the bottom right corner, we can see grass. It is also not green and, more to the center of the canvas, it is replaced by the riverside earth and rocks. The river is surrounded by a forest, and the majestic Half Dome stands tall on the background.
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