Cho-looke, the Yosemite Fall
Cho-looke, the Yosemite Fall, 1864
Oil on canvas, 34 1/4 x 27 1/8 in.
Bierstadt earned his initial popularity with a series of landscape paintings of the Rocky Mountains. The works were based on sketches he made on a United States Government expedition engaged in mapping an overland route to the Pacific. In 1863, he set out with a group of artists on his second western trip to visit the valley of Yosemite.
This painting, done in his New York studio after his return, conveys the spectacular scale and natural majesty of Yosemite Falls, then thought to be the highest in the country. At the close of a day of sketching, the artists gather at their camp near a grove of oaks and cypresses. Light illuminates the falls and the meadow bordering the Merced River. In the right corner of the painting are a sketching umbrella, a color-box, and other objects that Bierstadt took on the expedition.