Oil on canvas on panel-back stretcher
Framed: 135.3 x 181 x 15.6 cm (53 1/4 x 71 1/4 x 6 1/8 in.); Unframed: 97 x 142.3 cm (38 3/16 x 56 in.)
Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection 1922.684
Highly successful, Bierstadt built a mansion and named it Malkasten, a German word meaning “paintbox.”
During the summer of 1863, Bierstadt visited Yosemite Valley in California and made numerous sketches. Back in his New York studio, he used them to produce many majestic paintings, including this view of the distant granite peak Mount Starr King. Such scenes thrilled East Coast audiences and helped encourage early movements to safeguard natural wonders. In 1864, President Lincoln signed a bill preserving Yosemite as public property; it became a national park in 1890.
Bierstadt included two Native Americans with a packhorse in his composition, and their presence references the fact that Indigenous peoples had inhabited or seasonally visited the region for millennia. Over time, various government and military agencies dispossessed them of these ancestral lands. Although no longer residents in the national park, descendants of the seven Indigenous nations with ties to Yosemite persevered to live in neighboring areas.
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