(b. Solingen, Germany, 1830–d. New York City, 1902)
60 11/16 x 95 7/8 in. (154.2 x 243.4 cm)
Signed lower right: ABierstadt (A and B in monogram)
Museum Purchase, Gallery Fund
After the Gold Rush, the Western landscape became a source of fascination for Americans. Bierstadt’s dramatic images of the region commanded the highest prices of any works by an American artist at that time. Mount Corcoran is a composite of impressive sites that the painter saw during his travels to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the 1860s and early 1870s.
In part inspired by the Corcoran’s purchase of his rival Frederic Church’s Niagara, Bierstadt presented Mount Corcoran to the Gallery for consideration (though just weeks earlier he had exhibited it in New York as Mountain Lake). The wily artist also presented William Wilson Corcoran with a War Department map showing the location of Mount Corcoran. Several days later the museum’s curator, William MacLeod, discovered that a government official had manually added Corcoran’s name to the map. Bierstadt conceded, “I am happy to have named one of our highest mountains after him, the first to catch the morning sunlight and the last to say goodnight.”