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Informed Collecting: Dealers' Insights
Informed Collecting: Dealers' Insights
Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902), Home of the Rainbow, Horseshoe Falls, Niagara. Oil on canvas, 16-3/4 x 22-1/4 inches. Signed lower right. Priced at $495,000.

Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902)

Like Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt's name is synonymous with the American West. Painting in the late nineteenth century, Bierstadt celebrated America's westward expansion with his grand, naturalistic compositions. His awe-inspiring oil paintings significantly shaped how Easterners conceptualized the hitherto unseen West.

Though Home of the Rainbow, Horseshoe Falls, Niagara and Sunset in the Mountains do not form part of Bierstadt's Western oeuvre, they are strong representatives of his style. Both works reflect his naturalistic approach that roots the images to recognizable landscapes while incorporating a sense of drama.

Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902), Sunset in the Mountains, 1859. Oil on board, 6-1?2 x 5-11?16 inches. Monogrammed and dated "1859" lower left; inscribed "John Francis Esq With the Compliments of A Bierstadt" on verso. Priced at $120,000.

Prices for Bierstadt paintings range from $60,000 to $7.3 million (the latter, an auction record set in May 2008). Sunset in the Mountains is priced at $120,000. Although expertly painted, this smaller work costs less than his American scenes as it likely depicts a landscape inspired by his travels abroad. Home of the Rainbow is priced higher (at $495,000) because it represents an identifiable part of the American landscape, Niagara Falls, which places it among Bierstadt's more sought-after works. High quality western scenes can bring prices well into the millions.

William Trost Richards (1833–1905), Beach Scene, 1875. Watercolor on paper, 11-3/4 x 18-3/16 inches.
Signed and dated "1875" lower right. Priced at $85,000.

William Trost Richards (1833–1905)

A noted Hudson River School master, William Trost Richards created precise, yet emotive American seascapes. His watercolors and oil paintings exhibit a keen awareness of the details and poetic depths found in foam-capped waves, distant horizons, and the graceful movement of weather-worn trees.

Much admired in his own day, Richards's work remains a centerpiece of private and public American art collections, bringing prices between $20,000 and $500,000. Although known for his oils, Richards's watercolors are also highly desired. Both his contemporary colleagues and today's collectors consider him a premier watercolorist, capable of producing incredible detail within the medium.

William Trost Richards (1833–1905), Sundown, Atlantic City, 1874. Watercolor on paper, 11 x 17-5/8 inches (sight). Signed and dated "'74" lower left. Priced at $85,000.

Beach Scene and Sundown, Atlantic City were painted during what is considered Richards's best period: the 1870s. During this decade, he created a number of highly finished, exquisite watercolor compositions that parallel his oils in quality and significance. These works offer collectors a more approachable opportunity to acquire a fine example from Richards's oeuvre.

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