The breath-taking landscape Wind River, Wyoming, painted by Albert Bierstadt in 1870 shows a setting sun at a mountain range that surrounds the Wind River. The sunlight dictates the color palette, which is mainly shades of yellow and orange.
The composition is divided in two. On the bottom left corner, the colors vary in shades of dark browns, whereas on the upper right corner they vary in shades of bright yellows. It is like the canvas has a diagonal line that separats these two color-ranges.
In the foreground, on the right corner, there is a piece of the mountain on which the artist stood to sketch the painting. On it, there’s a small tree growing in the direction of the setting sun. Its dark color balances the extreme brightness of the sky against which it stands.
The river takes the center of the canvas and reflects the yellow sky on the right side of the picture. On both riverbanks, there are several trees. On the opposite side of the water stream, there are mountains which are of the same orange as the sky. In the sky, we can see a bit of blue amid the clouds. They seem to be grey as they reach the upper border of the canvas.
Bierstadt is famous for his astonishing renderings of the American landscapes. His subjects are aligned with the ones of the Hudson River School, which encompassed landscape artists who were strongly influenced by the Romanticism. Their painting frequently presented the use of aerial perspective.
This aerial perspective technique was one of Bierstadt’s favorites, for it allowed him to give the landscapes a paradisiac appearance. It consists of using the colors of the sky on the more distant elements, to give more depth to the scene. Bierstadt liked to exaggerate this technique and took it to the extreme. The Wind River, Wyoming is an excellent example of how he applied this technique with mastery and exaggeration. The result is a mesmerizing scenery.
He received a few critiques concerning this light treatment. It was said by some art critics of the time that Bierstadt’s landscapes did not seem real. However, this was not seen as something negative by many art buyers of the time. He sold his masterpiece, The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak, in 1865, for the incredible amount of twenty-five thousand dollars. Bierstadt received many prizes, including ones in Germany and Italy.
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