Do you know what a landscape is?
Once upon a fleeting time there lived a boy named Albert who sketched pictures with crayons. He did not know that one day a high mountain and a serene lake in Colorado would be named after him because of his majestic artwork.
You see, Albert never stopped drawing and he learned to paint in oils developing into a very fine artist. Albert was born in 1830 and as a young man attended the Dusseldorf Academy in Germany. In New York, he learned a style of painting called Luminism, which makes the paintings look like the lighting on the canvas is glowing.
In 1859, people were flocking to the mountains in Colorado to search for gold. It was called the Pikes Peak Gold Rush and participants were given the name 59er’s. Can you guess why?
In order to travel from New York, where Albert lived, to Colorado, people had to ride trains. The section of railroad from Leavenworth, Kansas to Denver Colorado was called the Pikes Peak Express. From there, one traveled by stagecoach, horse, or on foot.
Albert took his first trip out West during this time with his friend, Frederick Lander, who was exploring land to select more routes for the railroad. Perhaps, at the end of a day of travel they sat around a campfire and sang a popular song.
“Camptown ladies sing this song, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Camptown race-track five miles long, Oh, doo-dah day!
I come down here with my hat caved in, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
I go back home with a pocket full of tin, Oh, doo-dah day!
Goin’ to run all night!
Goin to run all day!
I’ll bet my money on the bob-tail nag,
Somebody bet on the bay.”
Albert didn’t paint during his travels, instead he relied on sketches and photographs to refresh his memory upon returning to his studio in New York. He made as many as 50 sketches for a single painting! He used the studies for large-scale paintings to show others who had not traveled out West the grandiose views of the mountains. Albert even got to exhibit a few pieces of his artwork in London, in front of Queen Victoria! One of the landscapes of the American West entitled, The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak, was sold for $25,000 in 1865.
Albert took many trips out West. During one of the visits, he hiked a fourteener in the Mount Evans Wilderness Area near Georgetown, Colorado. He was the first recorded hiker to summit the peak which is now called, Mount Bierstadt.
At the age of 46, Albert was asked to make a canvas painting of Longs Peak in Estes Park. He titled it Whyte’s Lake. Today, that lake is named Bierstadt Lake.
Think of Albert when you go to Bierstadt Lake or climb Mount Bierstadt. Several of his paintings are displayed at the American Museum of Western Art, The Anschutz Collection in Denver.