Born in 1830, Bierstadt's family moved from Germany to New Bedford, Massachusetts when he was three years old. He returned to Dusseldorf in 1853 to study painting for four years and upon his return to the States, he organized an exhibition of 150 paintings, including works submitted by other major artists of his day in New Bedford. The Boston Athenaeum purchased one of his works in 1957, thus solidifying his career.
Bierstadt exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum from 1859-1864, at the Brooklyn Art Association from 1861-1879 and at the Boston Art Club from 1873-1880. He occupied a studio in the 10th Street Studio Building in New York City from 1861-1879 and was a member of the National Academy of Design and the Century Association. Bierstadt is most well known for his paintings of the American west.