Friday, February 27, 2009

Frederick Edwin Church

Over the summer, I had the pleasure of getting a special tour of the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Walking around the exhibits, I was thoroughly enjoying myself when I all at once came to a room sectioned off from the rest. Within this room was Frederic Edwin Church's depiction of Niagara Falls from 1857. I was in awe. I sat down in the room for quite some time looking at the painting. For this reason, I was quite interested in learning a bit more about Church and his other paintings. 

Frederic Edwin Church was born on May 4, 1826 in Hartford, Connecticut. He was considered part of the "Hudson River School" of American Landscape Painters. The Hudson River School was a group of painters influenced by Romanticism, and members of the school painted images of the Hudson River Valley and surrounding areas. 

Church grew up in a wealthy family, enabling him to pursue his painting aspirations. He made his livelihood by traveling throughout the summers sketching, and then returning to New York in the winter to paint, teach, and sell his works. 

One of his most famous work is "The Heart of the Andes" which he painted in 1859 after a trip to South America. The painting is more than five feet high and ten feet long, and it is currently hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In revealing the work, Church made the event into an elaborate show, charging the audience admission and hiding the painting behind a curtain until the reveal. It was sold for $10,000, the highest price ever for a living American artist at the time. 
Church had a huge influence on the building of his home in Hudson, NY. The home was a Persian-Inspired mansion now known as Olana. Church even made several architectural sketches for the design, including ideas he got from his travels around Europe with his family. This information made me even more interested in Church as I have an interest in architecture and architects. 

Church, Frederic Edwin. Treasures from Olana: Landscapes by Frederick Edwin Church. Hudson, NY: Olana Partnership, 2005.

Davis, John. Archives of American Art Journal, Vol 34, No. 2 (1994), pp. 21-28. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved from 

Howat, John K. Frederic Church. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005. 

Smithsonian publication 4657. Frederic Edwin Church. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 1966. 

Images retrieved from ARTstor. 

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