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Although Among the Sierra Nevada, California is a reflection of the American West, it was created in Rome and displayed in Berlin, London and Paris (Honour and Fleming, 2000). It depicts a
photographic-like scene of a lake beneath the rocky cliffs of mountains. Breaking through the dark clouds after a summer storm, sunlight reflects off of a glassy lake with mirrored images of the
mountains above. The trees on the right and the cliffs on the left create a "v" in the center of the painting, which draws the viewer's eye towards the lower center. Distant snowcapped peaks are
present in the center right part of scene, where clouds consume parts of the mountains. The cliffs on the right appear smooth in comparison to the rough woods edge and larger mountains on the left.
These two elements seem to balance each other, and a diamond of light is created in the center. Darker clouds cover the top left and right hand corners adding to this effect. The middle ground is
somewhat dark and spotlights of sun dramatize the spectacular scenery. The foreground containing short grasses and the lake is smooth and as the eye moves upward the scenery gets progressively rougher.
Albert Bierstadt's beautifully crafted paintings played to a market eager, in the 1860s, for spectacular views of the nation's frontier. Works such as this fueled the image of America as a promised land just when Europeans were immigrating to this country in great numbers.