Michael Prodger | The New Statesman | 7th September 2022
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”.