With contributions by Patricia Mainardi and James M. Saslow
Inspired by the grandeur of the Rockies and the Alps, American and European artists strove to capture their power in paint. Landscapes of soaring peaks and spectacular vistas became increasingly popular in the mid-nineteenth century, when photographers, scientists, and armchair travellers were awakening to these wonders. Artistic interests coincided with the rise of tourism, as improved transportation and accommodations made mountains and glaciers more accessible.
This richly illustrated volume examines the dialogue between artists who visited and recorded the geographically distant ranges of the Rockies and the Alps. Two key figures highlighted are Swiss painter Alexandre Calame (1810–1864), frequently identified with Alpine views of torrents, glaciers, and gorges, and Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902), whose impressive canvases often provided American audiences with their first glimpse of the Rockies and the western frontier. Their contemporaries included J.M.W. Turner, John Ruskin, painters of the Hudson River School Thomas Cole, Worthington Whittredge, and John F. Kensett, and photographers Carleton Watkins and Eadweard Muybridge.
The Rockies and the Alps features contributions by four outstanding scholars who investigate how geology, flora and fauna, and social and literary contexts relate to the rise of alpine landscape painting. Each essay explores the close connections among these artists and diverse layers of symbolism these mountain images carried, revealing how the same landscape paintings that became archetypal symbols of American identity were in fact the product of a dialogue between American and European artists.
Katherine Manthorne is professor of Modern Art of the Americas, Doctoral Program in Art History, Graduate Center, City University of New York.
Tricia Laughlin Bloom is curator of American Art at the Newark Museum.
Patricia Mainardi is professor emeritus of 18th and 19th Century European Art, Doctoral Program in Art History, Graduate Center, City University of New York.
James M. Saslow is professor emeritus of Art History and Theatre, Doctoral Program in Art History, Graduate Center, City University of New York.