3 photos

Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) painted this beauty that is titled California Spring in 1875.

The oil-on-canvas artwork was presented to the City and County of San Francisco by Gordon Blanding (1941.6).

Bierstadt's California Spring was based on sketches that he made while visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, where he spent two years (1871-73).

"This lush view of the Sacramento River Valley would have convinced viewers ~ and potential settlers ~ that California was suitable for both habitation and cultivation," according to an interpretive display at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, where this photo was taken in January 2016.

"California's actual climate was satirized in Bret Harte's poem 'California Madrigal: On the Approach of Spring (ca. 1871).'"

Here is the poem:

Oh, come, my beloved, from thy winter abode, From thy home on the Yuba, thy ranch overflowed; For the waters have fallen, the winter has fled, And the river once more has returned to its bed.

Oh, mark how the spring in its beauty is near! How the fences and tules once more reappear! How soft lies the mud on the banks of yon slough By the hole in the levee the waters broke through!

All nature, dear Chloris, is blooming to greet The glance of your eye and the tread of your feet; For the trails are all open, the roads are all free, And the highwayman's whistle is heard on the lea.

Again swings the lash on the high mountain trail, And the pipe of the packer is scenting the gale;

The oath and the jest ringing high o'er the plain, Where the smut is not always confined to the grain.

Once more glares the sunlight on awning and roof, Once more the red clay's pulverized by the hoof, Once more the dust powders the 'outsides' with red, Once more at the station the whiskey is spread.

Then fly with me, love, ere the summer's begun, And the mercury mounts to one hundred and one; Ere the grass now so green shall be withered and sear, In the spring that obtains but one month in the year. ~ Francis Bret Harte


Bierstadt was a member of the Hudson River School; the same school of art to which my great-great-grandfather Thomas Hill subscribed to in his California landscape art. Bierstadt was best known for his beautiful landscapes of the American West.

"To paint the scenes, Bierstadt joined several journeys of the Westward Expansion," according to Wikipedia.

"Though not the first artist to record these sites, Bierstadt was the foremost painter of these scenes for the remainder of the 19th century.

"Born in Germany, Bierstadt was brought to the United States at the age of one by his parents. He later returned to study painting for several years in Dusseldorf.

"He became part of the Hudson River School in New York, an informal group of like-minded painters who started painting along this scenic river.

"Their style was based on carefully detailed paintings with romantic, almost glowing lighting, sometimes called luminism. An important interpreter of the western landscape, Bierstadt, along with Thomas Moran, is also grouped with the Rocky Mountain School."
Albert BierstadtCalifornia SpringCalifornia Spring

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