In 1859, Bierstadt wrote in a letter of his awe and satisfaction upon arriving at Wolf River. He remained in the area for two weeks and produced several sketches. This painting is a product of some of those sketches. It depicts two travelers on horseback crossing the river to trade at an Indian encampment. It is doubtful that this is an actual scene but rather one invented to provide his eastern patrons with a romanticized view of the exotic American west.
Artist Albert Bierstadt, American, 1830-1902
  • The Wolf River, Kansas
Date ca. 1859
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 48 1/4 × 38 1/4 inches (122.6 × 97.2 cm)
Framed: 61 5/16 × 51 1/2 × 5 1/8 inches (155.7 × 130.8 × 13 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Dexter M. Ferry, Jr. Fund
Accession Number 61.28
Department American Art before 1950
On View American W280, Level 2 (see map)
Signed Signed, lower right: A. Bierstadt
Vose Galleries (Boston, Massachusetts, USA).
Kennedy Galleries (New York, New York, USA).
1961-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
The Kennedy Quarterly 1, 2 (April 1960): pp. 30-31 (fig. 33).

Bulletin of the DIA 40, 3-4 (1960-1961): pp. 52-53 (ill.).

Kansiensiana. Exh. cat., University of Kansas Museum of Art. Lawrence, KS, 1961, no. 17.

Hendricks, Gordon. “The First Three Western Journeys of Albert Beirstadt.” The Art Bulletin 46, 3 (September 1964): pp. 333-365 (fig. 7).

Lindquist-Cock, Elizabeth. “Stereoscopic Photography and the Western Painting of Albert Bierstadt.” Art Quarterly 33, 4 (1970): pp. 360-378 (ill.).

Hendricks, G. A. Bierstadt. Exh. cat., Amon Carter Museum. Fort Worth, 1972, p. 13, no. 17 (ill.).

_____________. Albert Bierstadt: Painter of the American West. New York, 1973, p. 82 (fig. 63).

Rivard, N.J. “American Paintings at the Detroit Institute of Arts.” Antiques 114 (November 1978): pp. 1044-1055 (pl. 6).

“Family Art Game.” DIA Advertising Supplement. Detroit Free Press (May 20, 1979): p. 14 (ill.).

“Family Art Game.” DIA Advertising Supplement. Detroit News (April 29, 1984): p. 5 (ill.).

Nottage, James H. Prairie Visions: Art of the American West. Exh. cat., Kansas Museum of History. Topeka, 1985, p. 10.

Stein, R.B. “Packaging the Great Plains: The Role of the Visual Arts.” Great Plains Quarterly 5, 1 (1985): pp. 5-23 (fig. 3).

Ferber, Linda and Nancy Anderson. Albert Bierstadt: Art and Enterprise. New York, 1990, p. 153, no. 16 (ill.).

Albert Bierstadt: Art and Enterprise. Exh. cat., The Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, 1991, p. 153, no. 16.

Hassrick, Peter H. "Art, Agency, and Conservation." Montana: The Magazine of Western History 68, no. 1 (Spring 2018): pp. 8-9 (fig. 6).

Hassrick, Peter H. Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West. Exh. cat., Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Cody, 2018, pp. 88, 90 (fig 2.60).