Cover Art Description:
Few dimensions to the western story are more compelling, semmingly more a part of the nation's becoming, than the story of the overland trail. As John Phillip Reid notes in an article beginning on page 2, overland emigrants knew they were witnesses to a singular experience. People who otherwise rarely wrote about their lives faithfully recorded events and episodes of trail life in journals, diaries, and letters home. They wrote of many things, including their efforts to preserve law, order, and what they perceived to be civilized behavior.
Ther German-born painter Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) was no stranger to the overland experience. Bierstadt first traveled west in 1859 with General Frederick W. Lander to survey a wagon road from Fort Laramie to the Pacific. Unlike most overland emigrants, Bierstadt ventured west not in search of land or gold but rather for adventure and visual riches. The sketches and stereoptican views he made in 1859 and on subsequent trips west he rendered into the artworks that made him one of the best-known landscape artists of the American West. One such field sketch was Overland Trail (circa 1871, oil on paper, 7-3/8" x 11-3/8"). Composed in the field and reproduced on the cover courtesy the Anschutz Collection, Denver, Overland Trail uses Bierstadt's trademark theatrical lighting and sublime subject to portray a grand West of monumental size and manifest national significance.
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