Albert Bierstadt was born at Solingen, Germany in 1830. When he was only two years old, his parents immigrated to Massachusetts. At the age of 23, he returned to Düsseldorf to study art. There, Bierstadt learned the academic treatment of subject and light, as well as the precision and naturalism that is characteristic of his work. Returning to the United States in 1857 he traveled through the West on six different occasions between 1859 and 1889. He was determined to portray those grandiose landscapes to residents of the East.
Bierstadt was a Luminist, or second-generation member of the Hudson River School of landscape painting, and he founded the Rocky Mountain School of landscape painting. He was also known to change his mind about his landscapes, or alter them by painting over mountain ranges, or changing the location of things.