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Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion
Artist:Albert Bierstadt , American, born Germany, 1830 - 1902 Title:Mountain Brook, The White Mountains, New Hampshire Date:1863 Medium:Oil on board Culture: American Dimensions:18 1/2 x 15 1/4 in. (47 x 38.7 cm) Credit Line:Museum purchase with funds provided by Mrs. Fred von Canon Accession number:1987.5.1 Label Copy: Albert Bierstadt's nostalgic painting of the White Mountains reflects the artist's acute sensitivity to the natural landscape. We see a wild deer drinking from a mountain brook, isolated against the golden glow of a sunlit opening; the site appears in its natural state, untouched by human presence. For the Hudson River School painters, deer symbolized innocence and the vulnerability of nature in the face of human development. This image of the United States as a pristine and beautiful land disregards the fact that in 1863 the country was then torn apart by the Civil War, with staggering loss of life. Unlike Bierstadt's famous monumental panoramas of the American West, this painting depicts an intimate place of solitude and quiet reflection. How available was such a view of nature at this time? Environmental historians have documented that by the 1860s the actual amount of native forest in the American Northeast had been greatly depleted by logging for agriculture and the construction of ships and buildings. There is more forest acreage today, as lands have been returned to wilderness, than there was 150 years ago.


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