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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

[Beach Scene]

[Beach Scene]

ca. 1871-73

Albert Bierstadt

Born Solingen, Prussia, 1830; died New York City, New York, 1902

In 1871, Albert Bierstadt and his wife took the recently completed transcontinental railroad from New York to San Francisco. They remained in California for two years as he painted field studies, which he used later when composing larger “great pictures” in his New York studio. This study of clouds—another manifestation of water—is a modest work made in a relaxed manner, serving as a eulogy to quiet days in wide-open spaces.

Bierstadt’s imagining of dramatic clouds in Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast is shown on the museum’s third floor. [Beach Scene] revels in the faraway ocean with comforting clouds. In the other painting, people gather their catch before a looming storm.
Oil on paper mounted on fiber board
19 1/4 x 24 1/4 in. (48.9 x 61.6 cm)
Gift of Mrs. John McCone in memory of Ada E. Pigott
Provenance: With Mrs. William Pigott, Sr. (Ada E. Pigott, died 1941), Seattle, reportedly some years before 1924; by bequest to her daughter in law, Mrs. Paul Pigott (later Mrs. John McCone), 1940-1969; to Seattle Art Museum, October 1969
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryFort Worth, Amon Carter Museum, Albert Bierstadt, Jan. 27 - Mar. 19, 1972 (Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, Apr. 2 - May 14, 1972; New Bedford, Massachusetts, The Whaling Museum, May 28 - July 5, 1972; New York, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Sept. 11 - Nov. 5, 1972; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Nov. 15, 1972 - Jan. 3, 1973). Not in catalogue.

New York, New York, Museum of Modern Art, The Natural Paradise: Painting in America, 1800-1950, Oct.1 - Nov. 30, 1976. Text by Kynaston McShine, et al. No cat. no., reproduced p. 88 [as Beach Scene, dated ca. 1871-73].

Pullman, Washington, Museum of Art, Washington State University, Artist and Place: American Landscape Painting, 1860-1914, Mar. 1 - Apr. 28, 1978. Cat. no. 1, not reproduced.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, The View from Here: The Pacific Northwest, 1800-1930, Aug. 8, 2003 - Feb. 29, 2004. No catalogue.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water, Mar. 18 - May 30, 2022.

Published References“Recent Accessions of American and Canadian Museums,” Art Quarterly, vol. 33, no. 2 (Summer 1970): pp. 188, 197, reproduced p. 195 [listed under both Paintings and Drawings, as Beach Scene, not dated].

Hendricks Gordon. Albert Bierstadt: Painter of the American West (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, 1974), listed CL-247, n.p. [as Beach Scene].

Baigell, Matthew. Albert Bierstadt (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1981), p. 78, reproduced plate 32.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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