BIERSTADT AND OTHER 19TH-CENTURY AMERICAN PAINTERS IN CONTEXT
LANCE MAYER, & GAY MYERS
This article was originally prepared to complement the more technical papers at the symposium held at the National Gallery of Art in 1992 in conjunction with the exhibition Albert Bierstadt: Art and Enterprise. The catalog of that exhibition—which emphasizes the changing views of critics—inspired the authors to look for documents of the period relating to the technique; appearance, and settings of paintings by Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902) and other American painters and to analyze these comments from a technical point of view. This kind of inquiry seems especially appropriate with Bierstadt because many of his critics focused on his technique and because special settings were so much a part of the way that the public experienced the large paintings of artists like Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900). The authors have also drawn upon their experience in treating many 19th-century American paintings to try to understand connections between technique and appearance as well as between technique and conservation problems.