The canvas Storm Clouds, painted in 1880 by the German American painter Albert Bierstadt, is one of the series of works the artist did while living in Nassau in the Bahamas. He and his wife, Rosalie, moved there after she was diagnosed with tuberculosis. It shows a huge cloud, white on top and grey on the bottom.
This is an interesting moment in Bierstadt’s artistic production. He’s in a paradisiac setting, which is not something he’s not used to, as he had traveled through many of the most beautiful sceneries of the world, like the Swiss Alps and the natural parks in the United States of America. Still, he doesn’t render these mesmerizing landscapes very often. It could have something to do with the proximity of death, brought by his wife’s sickness. Another thing that seemed to disturbed Bierstadt was perhaps a heavy conscious for the decimation of the buffalos in the American West.
When he started traveling through the west, there were almost no cities around. He took part in several exploratory journeys through the region. While moving, he drew sketches of the landscapes and later made them into fantastic artworks. By doing so, he influenced many Americans, who decided to try anew in the West. It is said Bierstadt’s paintings helped accelerate the Westward Expansion. Later, the artist came back to these lands and found the buffalo population almost extinguished. This saddened him.
Bierstadt made several studies and sketches for the painting The Last Buffalo, which depicts the killing of a buffalo, surrounded by the skulls of many other buffalos. He also joined one of the first nature protection group. They weren’t against hunting but believed in a responsible approach to it.
It was right around this time after he painted this tribute to the buffalos to call attention to the matter of preservation, that he moved to Nassau. What is interesting about the years Bierstadt lived there is that the landscapes he painted started showing many close-ups, such as this. We can’t call this a landscape, but it still has the natural subject in it. We can even imagine while looking at this painting, what was under this beautiful sky. As the Bahamas has several beaches, the image of one comes quickly to the viewer’s mind.
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