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Frederic Edwin Church

Frederic Edwin Church

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Frederic Edwin Church (May 4, 1826 – April 7, 1900) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 landscape
Landscape art
Landscape art is a term that covers the depiction of natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, and especially art where the main subject is a wide view, with its elements arranged into a coherent composition. In other works landscape backgrounds for figures can still...

 painter
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 born in Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford is the capital of the U.S. state of Connecticut. The seat of Hartford County until Connecticut disbanded county government in 1960, it is the second most populous city on New England's largest river, the Connecticut River. As of the 2010 Census, Hartford's population was 124,775, making...

. He was a central figure in the Hudson River School
Hudson River school
The Hudson River School was a mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by romanticism...

 of American landscape
Landscape art
Landscape art is a term that covers the depiction of natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, and especially art where the main subject is a wide view, with its elements arranged into a coherent composition. In other works landscape backgrounds for figures can still...

 painters. While committed to the natural sciences, he was "always concerned with including a spiritual dimension in his works."

Beginnings


The family wealth came from Church's father, Joseph Church, a silversmith and watchmaker in Hartford, Connecticut (Joseph subsequently also became an official and a director of The Aetna Life Insurance Company). Joseph, in turn, was the son of Samuel Church, who founded the first paper mill in Lee, Massachusetts in the Berkshires, and this allowed him (Frederic) to pursue his interest in art from a very early age. At eighteen years of age, Church became the pupil of Thomas Cole
Thomas Cole
Thomas Cole was an English-born American artist. He is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River School, an American art movement that flourished in the mid-19th century...

 in Catskill, New York
Catskill (town), New York
Catskill is a town in the southeast part of Greene County, New York, United States. The population was 11,775 at the 2010 census. The western part of the town is in the Catskill Park....

 after Daniel Wadsworth, a family neighbor and founder of the Wadsworth Atheneum, introduced the two. In May 1848, Church was elected as the youngest Associate of the National Academy of Design
National Academy of Design
The National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, founded in New York City as the National Academy of Design – known simply as the "National Academy" – is an honorary association of American artists founded in 1825 by Samuel F. B. Morse, Asher B. Durand, Thomas Cole, Martin E...

 and was promoted to Academician the following year. Soon after, he sold his first major work to Hartford's
Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford is the capital of the U.S. state of Connecticut. The seat of Hartford County until Connecticut disbanded county government in 1960, it is the second most populous city on New England's largest river, the Connecticut River. As of the 2010 Census, Hartford's population was 124,775, making...

 Wadsworth Atheneum
Wadsworth Atheneum
The Wadsworth Atheneum is the oldest public art museum in the United States, with significant holdings of French and American Impressionist paintings, Hudson River School landscapes, modernist masterpieces and contemporary works, as well as extensive holdings in early American furniture and...

.

Career


Church settled in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 where he taught his first pupil, William James Stillman
William James Stillman
William James Stillman , United States was an American painter, journalist, and photographer.-Biography:Stillman was born in Schenectady, New York in 1828. His parents were Seventh Day Baptists, and his early religious training influenced him all through his life...

. From the spring to autumn each year Church would travel, often by foot, sketching
Sketch (drawing)
A sketch is a rapidly executed freehand drawing that is not usually intended as a finished work...

. He returned each winter to paint and to sell his work.

In 1853 and 1857, Church traveled in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

. One trip was financed by businessman Cyrus West Field
Cyrus West Field
Cyrus West Field was an American businessman and financier who, along with other entrepreneurs, created the Atlantic Telegraph Company and laid the first telegraph cable across the Atlantic Ocean in 1858.-Life and career:...

, who wished to use Church's paintings to lure investors to his South American ventures. Church was inspired by the Prussian explorer Alexander von Humboldt
Alexander von Humboldt
Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt was a German naturalist and explorer, and the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt...

's Cosmos and his exploration of the continent; Humboldt had challenged artists to portray the "physiognomy" of the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

.

Two years after returning to the US, Church painted The Heart of the Andes
The Heart of the Andes
The Heart of the Andes is a large oil-on-canvas landscape painting by the American artist Frederic Edwin Church . More than five feet high and almost ten feet wide, it depicts an idealized landscape in the South American Andes, where Church traveled on two occasions...

(1859), now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

, at the Tenth Street Studio in New York City. It is more than five feet high and nearly ten feet in length (167.9 × 302.9 cm). Church unveiled the painting to an astonished public in New York City in 1859. The painting's frame had drawn curtains fitted to it, creating the illusion of a view out a window. The audience sat on benches to view the piece and Church strategically darkened the room, but spotlighted the landscape painting. Church also brought plants from a past trip to South America to heighten the viewers' experience. The public were charged admission and provided with opera glasses to examine the painting's details. The work was an instant success. Church eventually sold it for $10,000, at that time the highest price ever paid for a work by a living American artist.

Church showed his paintings at the annual exhibitions of the National Academy of Design
National Academy of Design
The National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, founded in New York City as the National Academy of Design – known simply as the "National Academy" – is an honorary association of American artists founded in 1825 by Samuel F. B. Morse, Asher B. Durand, Thomas Cole, Martin E...

, the American Art Union, and at the Boston Art Club
Boston Art Club
The Boston Art Club, Boston, Massachusetts, for nearly 157 years, serves as a nexus for Members and non Members to access the world of Fine Art. Currently more than 250 members maintain an active environment for the support and promotion of these works....

, alongside Thomas Cole
Thomas Cole
Thomas Cole was an English-born American artist. He is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River School, an American art movement that flourished in the mid-19th century...

, Asher Brown Durand
Asher Brown Durand
Asher Brown Durand was an American painter of the Hudson River School.-Early life:Durand was born in and eventually died in Maplewood, New Jersey , the eighth of eleven children; his father was a watchmaker and a silversmith.Durand was apprenticed to an engraver from 1812 to 1817, later entering...

, John F. Kensett, and Jasper F. Cropsey. Critics and collectors appreciated the new art of landscape on display, and its progenitors came be to called the Hudson River School
Hudson River school
The Hudson River School was a mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by romanticism...

.

Family


In 1860 Church bought a farm in Hudson, New York
Hudson, New York
Hudson is a city located along the west border of Columbia County, New York, United States. The city is named after the adjacent Hudson River and ultimately after the explorer Henry Hudson.Hudson is the county seat of Columbia County...

 and married Isabel Carnes. Both Church's first son and daughter died in March, 1865 of diphtheria
Diphtheria
Diphtheria is an upper respiratory tract illness caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae, a facultative anaerobic, Gram-positive bacterium. It is characterized by sore throat, low fever, and an adherent membrane on the tonsils, pharynx, and/or nasal cavity...

, but he and his wife started a new family with the birth of Frederic Joseph in 1866. When he and his wife had a family of four children, they began to travel together. In 1867 they visited Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, allowing Church to return to painting larger works.

Before leaving on that trip, Church purchased the eighteen acres (73,000 m²) on the hilltop above his Hudson farm—land he had long wanted because of its magnificent views of the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

 and the Catskills. In 1870 he began the construction of a Persian-inspired mansion on the hilltop and the family moved into the home in the summer of 1872. Richard Morris Hunt
Richard Morris Hunt
Richard Morris Hunt was an American architect of the nineteenth century and a preeminent figure in the history of American architecture...

 was the architect for Cosy Cottage at Olana, and was consulted early on in the plans for the mansion, but after the Church's trip to Europe and what is now Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, the English architect Calvert Vaux was hired to complete the project. Church was deeply involved in the process, even completing his own architectural sketches for its design. This highly personal and eclectic castle incorporated many of the design ideas that he had acquired during his travels.

Illness affected Church's output. Although he was enormously successful as an artist by 1876 Church was stricken with rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder that may affect many tissues and organs, but principally attacks synovial joints. The process produces an inflammatory response of the synovium secondary to hyperplasia of synovial cells, excess synovial fluid, and the development...

 which greatly reduced his ability to paint. He eventually painted with his left hand and continued to produce his work although on a much slower pace. He devoted much of his energies during the final 20 years of his life to his house at Olana. Church died on April 7, 1900. He is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery
Spring Grove Cemetery
Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is a nonprofit garden cemetery and arboretum located at 4521 Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the second largest cemetery in the United States and is recognized as a U.S. National Historic Landmark....

, Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford is the capital of the U.S. state of Connecticut. The seat of Hartford County until Connecticut disbanded county government in 1960, it is the second most populous city on New England's largest river, the Connecticut River. As of the 2010 Census, Hartford's population was 124,775, making...

.

Legacy


Olana State Historic Site
Olana State Historic Site
Olana State Historic Site was the home of Frederic Edwin Church , one of the major figures in the Hudson River School of landscape painting. The centerpiece of Olana is an eclectic villa composed of many styles, difficult to categorize, which overlooks parkland and a working farm designed by the...

 is now owned and operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Taconic Region and receives extensive support from The Olana Partnership, a private, non-profit organization.

The main house is open to the public for guided tours. A visitor center offers a film and panel exhibit as well as a Museum Shop, operated by The Olana Partnership, offering books and many items inspired by the exotic locales of Church’s travels and paintings. The grounds are open year-round, 8am-sunset, for hiking, picnicking, snowshoeing or just enjoying the view.

Works



Among Church's paintings are:
  • Home by the Lake (1852), Amon Carter Museum
    Amon Carter Museum
    The Amon Carter Museum of American Art is located in Fort Worth, Texas. It was established by Amon G. Carter to house his collection of paintings and sculpture by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. Carter’s will provided a museum in Fort Worth devoted to American art.When the museum opened...

    . The painting, termed "a testament to the country's pioneer spirit," features a husband hunting for game and a wife carrying water that she had drawn from a well on their farm, which is built by hard labor in the wilderness.
  • The Falls of Tequendama (1854), Cincinnati Art Museum
    Cincinnati Art Museum
    The Cincinnati Art Museum is one of the oldest art museums in the United States. Founded in 1881, it was the first purpose-built art museum west of the Alleghenies. Its collection of over 60,000 works make it one of the most comprehensive collections in the Midwest.Museum founders debated locating...

  • The Andes of Ecuador (ca. 1854), Reynolda House Museum of American Art
    Reynolda House Museum of American Art
    Reynolda House Museum of American Art displays a premiere collection of American art ranging from the colonial period to the present. Built in 1917 by Katharine Smith Reynolds and her husband R. J. Reynolds, founder of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the house originally occupied the center of...

  • Niagara (1857), Corcoran Gallery of Art
    Corcoran Gallery of Art
    The Corcoran Gallery of Art is the largest privately supported cultural institution in Washington, DC. The museum's main focus is American art. The permanent collection includes works by Rembrandt, Eugène Delacroix, Edgar Degas, Thomas Gainsborough, John Singer Sargent, Claude Monet, Pablo...

  • The Heart of the Andes
    The Heart of the Andes
    The Heart of the Andes is a large oil-on-canvas landscape painting by the American artist Frederic Edwin Church . More than five feet high and almost ten feet wide, it depicts an idealized landscape in the South American Andes, where Church traveled on two occasions...

    (1859), Metropolitan Museum of Art
    Metropolitan Museum of Art
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

  • Twilight in the Wilderness (1860), Cleveland Museum of Art
    Cleveland Museum of Art
    The Cleveland Museum of Art is an art museum situated in the Wade Park District, in the University Circle neighborhood on Cleveland's east side. Internationally renowned for its substantial holdings of Asian and Egyptian art, the museum houses a diverse permanent collection of more than 43,000...

  • Cotopaxi (1862), Detroit Institute of Arts
    Detroit Institute of Arts
    The Detroit Institute of Arts is a renowned art museum in the city of Detroit. In 2003, the DIA ranked as the second largest municipally owned museum in the United States, with an art collection valued at more than one billion dollars...

  • Niagara Falls from the American side (1867), National Gallery of Scotland
    National Gallery of Scotland
    The National Gallery of Scotland, in Edinburgh, is the national art gallery of Scotland. An elaborate neoclassical edifice, it stands on The Mound, between the two sections of Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens...

  • Syria by the Sea (1873), Detroit Institute of Arts
    Detroit Institute of Arts
    The Detroit Institute of Arts is a renowned art museum in the city of Detroit. In 2003, the DIA ranked as the second largest municipally owned museum in the United States, with an art collection valued at more than one billion dollars...

  • The River Of Light, (1877), National Gallery of Art
    National Gallery of Art
    The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden is a national art museum, located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, in Washington, DC...

  • The Parthenon” in Athens (1871), Metropolitan Museum of Art
    Metropolitan Museum of Art
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

  • Mediterranean Sea, (1882), Olana State Historic Site
    Olana State Historic Site
    Olana State Historic Site was the home of Frederic Edwin Church , one of the major figures in the Hudson River School of landscape painting. The centerpiece of Olana is an eclectic villa composed of many styles, difficult to categorize, which overlooks parkland and a working farm designed by the...


External links