2020 Nera di Verzasca Prize - Verzasca Foto Awards
To name a mountain
The purpose of naming a mountain is an act charged of poetry. It tells us about the desire of possession and permanence. It reminds us, through creation, of the memory of those we have loved.
In the spring of 1863, the landscape-painter Albert Bierstadt, started his second tour across the Rocky Mountains with his friend the American writer Fitz Hugh Ludlow.
The story says that during their expedition, the painter was astonished by the view of an enormous mountain. Immediately he made a sketch where a dark grey storm crosses an imaginary horizon of gigantic peaks blown out of proportion. Bierstadt entitled his painting “A storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mount Rosalie” in honor of his traveling companion’s wife. The work was interpreted as a representation of his emotional anguish and the mountain, unnamed until that date, was named Mount Rosalie in honor of the woman that Bierstadt secretly loved.
Most critics thought Mount Rosalie was impossibly high. The painting and Bierstadt’s work seem to talk about desire, but always through the excess and the violation of a reality that only seemed suggestive for the artist when it was conducted by his imagination. His idea of beauty oscillated between the sublime exaltation of his emotions and the calculated effectiveness of the forms. Both contradictory notions though, is it not an audacity and a frustration at the same time to try to reach a summit? Nevertheless, the purpose of naming a mountain is an act charged of poetry. It tells us about the desire of possession and permanence. It reminds us, through creation, of the memory of those we have loved.