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In 1863, Albert Bierstadt made an arduous expedition to Colorado in order to gather studies of the region for this monumental painting, executed three years later in his New York studio. For the
final canvas, he exercised artistic license - rearranging some landmarks and exaggerating the scale of others - to maximize the visual interest of this Rocky Mountain landscape.
In A Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Rosalie, the scene is dominated by a mountain slope on the right of the composition that starts at the top right corner of the frame, and sweeps down on a diagonal line to the bottom center and left of the painting. The mountainside is covered with pine and aspen trees, wildflowers, and grasses typical of the Rockies, painted with exquisite and accurate detail.
When reaching the bottom left of the composition, viewers find a grassy valley with a gently meandering river that leads your eye to a small lake in the middle ground. Native Americans are camped in tepees on the banks of the river. The lake and mountain cliffs that surround the camp are brightly lit by the sun, which shines through a break in the clouds.
Albert Bierstadt was a skilled showman. Here, he reorganized Rocky Mountain landmarks, exaggerated their scale, and introduced dramatic weather to thrill audiences at a moment when the North American continent was under rapid development.