Museum of Fine Arts Boston Paper on Two Works

Topics: Brooklyn, New York City, Brooklyn Bridge Pages: 7 (2184 words) Published: December 19, 2006
Museum of Fine Arts Boston Final Paper

Albert Bierstadt
Storm in the Mountains (1870)
Mid 19th Century American section
(J.P. and Mary B. Barger Gallery)

Joseph Stella
Old Brooklyn Bridge (1941)
Early 20th Century American section
(Lee Gallery)

Storm in the Mountains
Albert Bierstadt

Content Description:
The content of this work is as the title implies. This painting is of a storm in the mountains. It closely resembles a later work that is slightly more famous, by the same artist called "Storm in the Rockies." Both works are done from similar perspective and are of the same set of mountains. For this reason believe this piece is a narrative work, it is the first painting of a pair that shows the progression of a storm through the Rocky Mountains. At the bottom in the foreground, tress and bushes are blowing in the wind from left to right. Beyond these trees a flat and mostly open field stretches into the distance. On either said of this field steep mountains and rock faces sprout form the ground and rise up to the edges of the picture plane. At the top left corner a dark cloud looks as though it's moving across the sky. As it moves from left to right on the canvas it gets lighter and starts to move downward, and the white clouds engulf the top of the mountain on the right side of the picture plane. The lower portion of the mountain face on the right is drenched in a stream of yellow sunlight that is also traveling from left to right.

Storm in the Mountains is a work of the fine arts as it is purely nonfunctional. I would certainly consider it to be a naturalistic work but there is also a feeling that it might be idealized or in other words shown slightly more beautiful than it actually appeared to the artist at the time of viewing.

When and Where:
Storm in the Mountains was painted in about 1870 in a New York art studio. Albert Bierstadt was born in Germany and at two years old his family immigrated to America and settles in New Bedford Massachusetts. Beginning in 1859 Albert made three trips to the west and made oil sketches along the way, once he returned to his New York studio he used these sketches to make panoramic views of the western world that he saw.

Description of Historical Content:
Albert's paintings emphasized the spectacular landscapes of the west, sometimes exaggerating what he had seen. This came at a time when the west was capturing American's interest. When these painting were completed back in the east people saw them and they quickly found there way into public and private collections. They captured people's imaginations and interest in the expanding American west.

The Medium:
Storm in the Mountains is oil paint on stretched canvas. This painting is defiantly not painterly or imposto, all the brush strokes are short and thin and are hard to see on the canvas. The frame is wood and painted gold. It really helps the painting to jump off the canvas as the area right near the frame on the picture plane is very dark and the frame is a vibrant gold.

Attraction to the work:
What first attracted me to Storm in the Mountains is the explosive color that the sunlight brings to the painting. Most of the picture plane is dark and dull except the incredible yellows and greens that glow on the canvas as a stream on sunlight breaks through the clouds and onto the mountain side. These yellows and greens that truly seem to glow from the canvas are what first got my attention. Once I stood and observed the work for a while it almost seemed as though the clouds were moving and the tress's really blowing I could feel what the air must have felt like and could imagine how the sun felt breaking through the clouds. The painting gave me a mentally image of the scene in action.

Personal meaning:
There is a strong feeling that goes along with any work that has a light from above breaking through the darkness and clouds. To me it represents overcoming sadness and depression, or the old...
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