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(ART.) John B. Floyd. Letter of recommendation for the painter Albert Bierstadt to bring on his first Western trip. Letter Signed as Secretary of War. One page, 10 x 7 3/4 inches, plus integral blank on one folding sheet; minor wear including short separations at folds. War Department [Washington], 8 April 1859
The renowned Hudson River School painter Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) was just becoming established as a landscape painter in 1859 when he first went west to accompany an Army transcontinental railroad survey. The resulting sketches from this and later trips were transformed into epic canvasses which made him perhaps the best-known artist of the American West by 1863. Offered here is a letter of recommendation which Bierstadt secured from the Secretary of War, helping to make this first trip possible.
"The bearer of this note, Mr. A. Bierstadt, who proposes to accompany Colonel Lander's wagon road party, has been introduced to me as an artist and a gentleman of character, and as such I commend him to the courtesy and kind attention of the commanders of such military posts as he may visit."
The letter writer, John Buchanan Floyd (1806-1863) of Virginia, provided active assistance to the secessionists as Secretary of War, and was later investigated for conspiracy and fraud; he later served disastrously as a general in the Confederacy.
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