The Falls of St. Anthony

Albert Bierstadt

Las cataratas de San Antonio

Bierstadt, Albert

Solingen, 1830 - Nueva York, 1902

The Falls of St. Anthony, c. 1880-1887

© Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza

Signed lower left: ''A. Bierstadt'' [AB in monogram]
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Oil on canvas

96,8 x 153,7 cm


Artwork history

  • Sent by the artist to the Holland Galleries in New York.

  • C. Farina, New York, 1920.

  • Private collection, 1926.

  • Private collection, Englewood (NJ).

  • Knoedler Gallery, New York, 1976.

  • Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York, 1979.

  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Lugano, 1980.

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid.

1976 - 1977

The River: Images of the Mississipi, Minneápolis (MN), Walker Art Center.

1982 - 1983

Nineteenth-Century American Landscape Painting: Selections from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Houston (TX), Museum of Fine Arts; Oklahoma City (OK), Oklahoma Art Center; Omaha (NE), Joslyn Art Museum, nº 2, p. 18.


Maestri Americani della Collezione Thyssen-Bornemisza, Vatican City, Musei Vaticani, nº 12.


Maestri Americani della Collezione Thyssen-Bornemisza, Lugano, Villa Malpensata, nº 12.

1984 - 1986

American Masters: The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Baltimore (MD), The Baltimore Museum of Art; Detroit (MI), The Detroit Institute of Arts; Denver (CO), Denver Art Museum; San Antonio (TX), Marion Koogler McNay Art Institute; New York (NY), IBM Gallery of Arts and Sciences; San Diego (CA), San Diego Museum of Art; Palm Beach (FL), The Society of the Four Arts, nº 12.

1986 - 1987

En Ny Värld: amerikanskt landskapsmåleri 1830-1900. Och ett urval samtida skandinaviskt landskapsmåleri, Stockholm, Nationalmuseum; Gothenburg, Göteborgs Konstmuseum, nº 7.


Mestres americans del segle XIX de la Col·lecció Thyssen-Bornemisza, Barcelona, Palau de la Virreina, nº 3.


De Canaletto a Kandinsky. Obras maestras de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, nº 48, p. 140.

1996 - 1997

From Zurbaran to Picasso. Masterpieces from the Collection of Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Shanghai, Shanghai Museum; Beijing, China National Art Gallery, p. 66.


Capolavori dalla Collezione di Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza: 60º anniversario dell'apertura della Pinacotecca di Villa Favorita, Lugano, Villa Favorita, nº 53, p. 150.


Del vedutismo a las primeras vanguardias. Obras maestras de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, nº 9, p. 78.

1998 - 1999

Masterworks from the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; Takaoka, Takaoka Art Museum; Nagoya, Matsuzaka Art Museum; Sendai, Miyagi Museum of Art, nº 17, p. 52.


Aspectos de la tradición paisajística en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Málaga, Salas de Exposiciones del Palacio Episcopal, nº 47, p. 160.

1999 - 2000

Naturalezas pintadas de Brueghel a Van Gogh. Pintura naturalista en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, nº 19, p. 80.


Cosmos: From Goya to de Chirico, from Friedrich to Kiefer. Art in Pursuit of the Infinite, Venice, Palazzo Grassi, p. 197.

2000 - 2001

Explorar el Edén. Paisaje americano del siglo XIX, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, nº 39, p. 148.


Landschaften von Brueghel bis Kandinsky. Die Ausstellung zu Ehren des Sammlers Hans Heinrich Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bonn, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, nº 35, p. 108.


Il trionfo del colore. Collezione Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Kandinsky, Rome, Palazzo Ruspoli, p. 66.

2007 - 2008

Art in the USA: 300 años de innovación, Bilbao, Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, illus. pp. 102-103.

2008 - 2009

Orte der Sehnsucht. Mit Künstler auf Reisen, Münster, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, nº 348, p. 400, illus. p. 401.


Paraísos y paisajes en la Colección Carmen Thyssen. De Brueghel a Gauguin, Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, nº 16, p. 98, illus. p. 99.


L'ideal en el paisatge. De Meifrèn a Matisse i Gontxarova. Col·lecció Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Fundació Privada Centre d'Art Col·lecció Catalana de Sant Feliu de Guíxols, p. 44, illus. p. 45.

2015 - 2016

La ilusión del Lejano Oeste. 3 November 2015 - 7 February 2016. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Cat. 11, pp. 38 &39.


La ilusión del “Far West”. Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza y Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. 25 June- 30 October 2016. Espai Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guixols, Cat. 11, pp. 38 &39.

2016 - 2017

La Ilusión del Lejano Oeste. Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga.19 November 2016 - 19 March 2017. Cat. 11, p. 38-39.

  • -The Magazine Antiques, p. 424, illus.

  • -The Kennedy quarterly. New York, Kennedy Galleries, inc. 1959-1979, nº 187, illus.

  • -Warren, David B.: Nineteenth-Century American Landscape Painting: Selections from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. [Exhib. Cat. Houston, Museum of Fine Arts – Omaha, Joslyn Museum of Art, 1982-1983]. Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, 1982 , p. 18 [ Sheet by Warren].

  • -Novak, Barbara: Nineteenth-Century American Painting: The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. Ellis, Elizabeth Garrity… [et al.]. London, Sotheby´s Publications, 1986 , nº 64, pp. 206-207, illus. [Sheet by Elizabeth Garrity Ellis].

  • -Storm Nagy, E.: Europa e America. Dipinti e acquerelli dell’ Ottocento e del Novecento dalla Collezione Thyssen-Bornemisza. Guida delle opere esposte. Milan, 1993, nº 4, p. 25, illus.


  • -Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 1, p. 260, illus. p. 261 [ Sheet by Elizabeth Garrity Ellis].

  • -Arnhold, Hermann: Orte der Sehnsucht. Mit Künstlern auf Reisen. Beyer, Andreas… [et al.] [Exhib. cat.] Münster, Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte-Regensburg, Schnell & Steiner, 2008, nº 348, p. 400, fig. p. 401 [Sheet by de Jürgen Krause].

  • -Borobia, Mar and Alarcó, Paloma (eds.): Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Obras escogidas. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2011, p. 158, illus. p. 159.

  • -Alarcó, P. and Borobia, M. (eds.): Guía de la colección. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2012, p. 200, illus. p. 201.

  • -La ilusión del Lejano Oeste.  Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, 2015. (Exhib. Cat.), Cat.11, pp. 38 & 39 (photo).

  • -La Ilusión del Lejano Oeste. Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, 2016 (Exhib. Cat.). Cat. 11, p. 38-39 (photo).

Expert report

“But works of nature, the landmarks erected by the eternal elements; can these be obliterated? Have they any past which the artist can preserve for coming generations? Let this picture decide. Here are the Falls of St. Anthony, as they roared to an untenanted solitude in the year 1835, when George Catlin visited and sketched them. Who would recognize their identity between that fair wild scene and the Falls of St Anthony today.”

Painted only a few years before Matthews’ lecture, Bierstadt’s elegiac image of The Falls of St. Anthony reflects the same sense of lost wilderness and time. It is an imagined scene, of “fair wild” nature as Claudian arcadia, with its hazy golden light, conventional framing trees and pensive figures at the left. Unlike Catlin, Bierstadt saw the Falls long after the “untenanted” landscape had become memory. By the time he visited Minnesota in the 1880s, they were surrounded by the burgeoning city of Minneapolis. Their exaggerated scale here probably reflects the ambition of Bierstadt’s instincts as well as memories of Niagara Falls which he first saw in 1869.

It has been suggested that the solitary man in black standing on the rocky outcropping in the lower centre represents Father Hennepin, the Franciscan missionary who discovered the Falls and named them after St. Anthony of Padua while a captive of the Sioux in 1680. Bierstadt turned to the theme of discovery throughout his career, including his 1875 mural for the U.S. Capitol. Whether as interloper or as contemplative spectator, the presence of the figure in this painting is unresolved. As Novak observed: nature was “contemplated by the small meditating figures in these landscapes without much recognition either of nature’s negative aspects or of the destructive potential of the ‘culture’ symbolised by […] the figure of man himself.”

Elizabeth Garrity Ellis