The Easel

Archives: Michael Prodger

20th September 2022

Albert Bierstadt unveiled the epic vistas of the American West

Manifest destiny was the idea that settler expansion across the American continent was but one more step toward American greatness. A young Bierstadt saw himself as just the artist to paint this vision. His landscapes of the West were huge, immensely popular, but appear now to express a “dream of conquest”. Railroad magnates loved them, but an observant Mark Twain thought them too much – all those silvery mountains, clouds and sunlight were “considerably more beautiful than the original”.