Buffalo Trail: The Impending Storm

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Buffalo Trail: The Impending Storm, 1869
Albert Bierstadt
Courtesy of The National Gallery of Art


By 1869, when he created this idyllic view, Albert Bierstadt had made two extensive trips to the American West. He based this lush scene of buffalo peacefully making their way across a river or creek against a roiling sky on views he had sketched during one or both of those expeditions. In a letter he wrote on September 3, 1859 during his excursion with the survey team of US Army Colonel Frederick W. Lander, the artist describes one such scene. He recorded his awe at encountering the majestic buffalo in a passage that could easily describe Buffalo Trail: Impending Storm:

We find here plenty of buffalo. One morning we saw a noble looking animal crossing the river near us, and I alighted from my ambulance and took a position behind a bluff, in order to give him a reception. As he came splashing through the water, I felt half inclined to lay down my rifle and take up my sketchbook, but I was so wrapped in admiration and study I could do neither for a few moments. 

Bierstadt’s meticulous attention to detail and texture, as well as his tightly brushed technique—results of his early training in Düsseldorf, Germany—characterize this bucolic, romantic scene.

Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

Air Bellows Gap
Blue Ridge Parkway

God created a beautiful world for us to enjoy. So get out there and enjoy it!