Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite Valley, California

Albert Bierstadt1871 - 1873

Cincinnati Art Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum
Cincinnati, United States

In a nation committed to expansion and recently traumatized by the Civil War, Bierstadt’s serene paintings of open, unpopulated vistas found enormous success. The artist’s work soon became identified with the political doctrine of Manifest Destiny. Bierstadt traveled regularly throughout the frontier, returning east with images of a sublime landscape for rapt viewers.

Bierstadt’s paintings were always carefully detailed records of western scenery, although the artist did not hesitate to alter the features of the landscape to heighten the sense of nature's grandeur or improve his compositions. It was more important that such paintings appear realistic to an audience that had never seen these natural formations. People raised in gentler eastern landscapes found the imposing scale of western topography alien and fantastic. Photographers and painters like Bierstadt communicated the majesty of the West and were instrumental in the creation of the first national parks.

This painting is unusual as an oil study: it is larger and more closely observed than most of his works on paper, but also has an immediacy not seen in his grandiose exhibition paintings.

After Bierstadt first visited the Yosemite Valley in 1863, he created a series of oil paintings that contributed to 1864 legislation designating Yosemite as parkland granted to the state of California. In 1890 Yosemite became a national park.


  • Title: Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite Valley, California
  • Creator: Albert Bierstadt (American, b.1830, d.1902)
  • Creator Lifespan: 1830/1902
  • Creator Nationality: American
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Date Created: 1871 - 1873
  • Physical Dimensions: 18 7/8 x 26 in. (48 x 66.1 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Edwin and Virginia Irwin Memorial
  • Accession Number: 2002.45
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on paper mounted on canvas

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