|Among the Sierra Nevada Mountians. Albert Bierstadt. (1830-1902) Dover Publications, Inc.|
The artists who depicted what they saw were the early photographers of the West, but of course they could and did embellish what they saw through an artists eye and point-of-view.
In 1883 the historian, Frederick Jackson Turner in a lecture, entitled, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History." His premise was that the existence of an area of free land had defined American society with the essential peaceful occupation of a largely empty continent and creation of a unique American identity. Another view of this frontier is William Cody, also known as "Buffalo Bill." His Wild West was one of conquest, taking the continent from the Indians. "The hero of Turner's story is the farmer who overcame the wilderness with the ax and the plow. The hero of Buffalo Bill's story is the scout who overcame the Indians with the rifle and bullet."
Through these paintings, you will see both points of view, with much sympathy and admiration for the Indians. I am using the term "Indians" since that was the term used during those years.