emigrants crossing the plains

emigrants crossing the plains

The image portrays the migration of pioneers into the West along the Oregon Trail. Taking place in the mid 19th century, this is one of the most stirring chapters of foundational American history, and is evoked in the famous phrase, ‘Go West young man, and grow up with the country.’ Bierstadt was enraptured by the natural surroundings of the plains and especially the Rocky Mountains, which he compared in beauty to the Alps, and are here rendered as stately guardians, bathed in the glowing sunset, towering protectively over the wagon train.
This iconic picture, Emigrants Crossing the Plains, one of his most popular, was painted as a direct result of studies that he made during land surveying trips made in the 1850s. It is typical of his expansive, panoramic style, which reflected the majesty and vastness of the American West, and it is bathed in the dramatic colours and warm lighting that were characteristic of his art. The painting is executed in a highly detailed naturalistic manner that had immediate appeal at the time and, along with the public and critical approval of his other pictures, led to his financial success.

Emigrants crossing the plains
Original Retail Price $495.00

Image Size: 36″w x 23″h.
Published: February 2017

Emigrants crossing the plains

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    The quality of a Giclée fine art print may be generally reckoned from the weight, and therefore, thickness, of the printing paper that is used. That is, the heavier, weightier the printing paper that is used, the better the likely quality. Weight of paper is measured in ‘Grams per Square Metre’ or ‘gsm’ for short. So, without further ado.
    for Giclée Quality Bierstadt Prints on Premium Canvas or Fine Art Papers

    As the sun sets, a family has stopped by a stream to take a break from a long, difficult journey. They have built a campfire and hung a pot over it so they can cook a meal. A boy tends to the fire while his sister bends down to collect water. The mother on the far right holds an infant while the father, holding a rifle, looks on. Horses feed on hay from the wagon. In the background, a long line of covered wagons called a caravan or “wagon train” stretches as far as the eye can see. The angle of the family’s wagon, the direction of the caravan, and the lines in the evening sky all draw our attention toward a vanishing point on the horizon. That land in the distance represents the American West.
    The New England journalist Samuel Bowles included this engraving (a print of an image made from pressing a plate or block to paper) in his book Our New West. The book was based on his journeys across the United States in 1865 and 1869. In his book, Bowles described a scene from his first trip. He wrote that the landscape he saw in the first two hundred miles of his trip, after departing from Atchison, Kansas, had “the finest prairie scenery of the West.” Bowles described the Great Plains as “stretches of exquisite green surface, rolling like long waves of the sea, and broken at distances of miles by an intervale [a type of land with rich soil for farming] with a small stream.”[1]