Albert Bierstadt was a skilled showman. Here, he reorganized Rocky Mountain landmarks, exaggerated their scale, and introduced dramatic weather to thrill audiences at a moment when the North American continent was under rapid development. Bierstadt’s display for profit of theatrically lit large canvases like this one was a forerunner of today’s movies.
In 1863 Bierstadt made on-site studies for the work, which he completed in his New York studio. The painting had a personal significance, for “Mt. Rosalie” (now Mount Evans) was named by the artist in honor of his traveling companion’s wife, Rosalie Osborne Ludlow, whom Bierstadt would marry in 1866 following her divorce.