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Albert Bierstadt's Valley of the Yosemite Commemorated on Postage Stamp
Albert Bierstadt painted the Valley of the Yosemite in 1864.

HARTFORD.- The U.S. Postal Service dedicated the Valley of the Yosemite commemorative 42-cent first class stamp at the American Philatelic Stamp Show in Hartford, CT today. The stamp image is based onan 1864 oil-on-paperboard painting by landscape artist Albert Bierstadt. The original painting belongs to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The Albert Bierstadt: Valley of the Yosemite stamp, as the eighth issuance in the American Treasures series, is available nationwide.

“Albert Bierstadt painted the Valley of the Yosemite in 1864,” said U.S. Postal Service Vice President, Employee Resource Management, Deborah Giannoni-Jackson while dedicating the stamp. “That same year, Nevada became our 36th state and President Lincoln signed into law the Yosemite Land Grant to protect 39,000 acres of the Yosemite Valley and the neighboring Mariposa Big Tree Grove. It was a heroic age, and the western frontier was a land of opportunity and spectacular beauty.

“It was the perfect place and time for Bierstadt,” she continued. “He loved nature, adventure and America. And he found them all on perfect display in the great American West. In hundreds of dramatic paintings, he mixed reality and artistry to capture the essence of the wilderness the grandeur of nature and the soaring spirit of a nation growing into its destiny.”

Joining Giannoni-Jackson in dedicating the stamp were Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee member Jessica Helfand and American Philatelic Society Past President Janet Klug.

One of the preeminent American landscape painters of the 19th century, Bierstadt is considered to be a second-generation member of the Hudson River School, a group of artists devoted to the American landscape. Best known for his Western landscapes, he was strongly influenced by the dramatic images of German painters active in Düsseldorf. Both painting styles were highly influenced by romanticism and emphasized the spiritual aspects of nature.

Valley of the Yosemite—which measures 11 7/8 inches by 19 1/4 inches—shares the freshness and immediacy of the plein air field sketches Bierstadt used in composing a much larger painting entitled Looking Down Yosemite Valley.

Even at this small scale, Bierstadt effectively used the theatrical atmospheric lighting and dramatic aerial perspective so characteristic of the Hudson River School of painters. Valley of the Yosemite evokes the sublime grandeur of the unspoiled Western wilderness that Bierstadt so eloquently portrayed in his monumental panoramic landscapes

Inaugurated in 2001 with the Amish Quilts stamp pane, the American Treasures series is intended to showcase beautiful works of American fine art and crafts. The 2002, 2003, and 2004 issuances featured artwork by John James Audubon, Mary Cassatt, and Martin Johnson Heade respectively. The theme returned to textiles with the issuance of the New Mexico Rio Grande Blankets stamp booklet in 2005 and the Quilts of Gee’s Bend booklet in 2006. The 2007 issuance featured a leaded Favrile-glass window designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

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