The painting entitled Nassau Harbor, created in 1877 by Albert Bierstadt shows a first impression of the artist, who had just moved to the city. He and his wife, Rosalie, had moved to the Bahamas in the year before because of health problems. Rosalie had Tuberculosis, and the warm climate helped relieve the symptoms of the disease.
The canvas shows a landscape that has, in the foreground, the sea-shore. There is a boat lying on the sand of the shore. In the bottom left corner of the picture, the sand of the beach is covered with grass. Directly above the grass, we can see a boat and several men inside it. One seems to be pulling or pushing it. Small ships float in the shallow part of the water. Bigger ships can be seen a little further from the shore. Two of them have flags on the mast. In the distance, we can see land and on it a lighthouse.
This is one of the first works Bierstadt developed at the Bahamas, and it shows a positive depiction of the place. Later works would depict not so many landscapes, but details of the scenery, like clouds in Storm Clouds from 1880, or a wave as in The shore of the Turquoise Sea, made in 1878.
It is possible that the health state of his wife profoundly affected Bierstadt. Not only because of the prospect of losing someone but also because he was forced to leave the United States of America. This effect can be seen in the change of approach to the subject in the artist’s paintings.
Back in the United States, his depictions of the American landscapes served to the ennobling of the natural beauties of the country. Bierstadt used techniques with mastery and made the sceneries look like they came out of a fairytale. His choice of subject, just as the composition he created on his canvases, captured the best features the landscape presented and enriched them. The same treatment was not given very often to the scenery of the Bahamas.
Bierstadt production of landscapes became extremely famous amongst the American art buyers of the 19th century. He managed to sell one work for twenty-five thousand dollars back in 1865. A considerable amount for the time. He got some international prizes in Germany, Belgian and Austria.
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