Mount Sir Donald, Asulkan Glacierc. 1890 by
Bierstadt, Albert 1830-1902
Mountains as one of nature's sublime wonders had been an important theme of Romantic art and a favorite of the Hudson River School. Bierstadt, who is sometimes credited with forming a Rocky Mountain school of painting, established his reputation with paintings of the Rockies in the 1860s and returned to them several times. In 1889 he had opportunity to explore and paint the range in Canada's Northwest Territories as a result of a promotional campaign by the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railroad, which began full service in 1886.
The Haggin painting represents one of the landmarks along this rail line. Mount Sir Donald is located in British Columbia's Glacier National Park (established in 1886). In mid-November 1889, Bierstadt stayed at Glacier House, the park hotel, while working on a large painting of this peak. He had no commission, but he hoped to sell it to the man for whom the mountain was named, Sir Donald Smith, builder of the Canadian Pacific Railroad-a hope that was never realized. It has been suggested that the Haggin painting is the small version of the work that was offered to Sir Donald Smith and Sir George Stephens in 1890. However, the small size and loose brushwork may indicate a finished study completed during one of the artist's stay at Glacier House, or made from photographs in his studio.
In the large painting and in the smaller Haggin work, Bierstadt emphasizes the pinnacle's soaring verticality by selecting an upright format, a departure from his usual panoramic views. Dead trees and tall evergreens in the foreground direct attention to the snow-covered granite prominence that rises nearly out of the canvas.
Size (inches): 28 x 20
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Location: Not on Display