Sunday 7 July 2013

Frederic Edwin Church – part 1

Frederic Edwin Church (1826 – 1900) was an American landscape painter born in Hartford, Connecticut. He was a central figure in the Hudson River School of American landscape painters. At eighteen years of age, Church became the pupil of Thomas Cole in Catskill, New York after Daniel Wadsworth, a family neighbour 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 and was promoted to Academician the following year. Soon after, he sold his first major work to Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum.

Church settled in New York where he taught his first pupil, William James Stillman. From the spring to autumn each year Church would travel, often by foot, sketching. He returned each winter to paint and to sell his work.

In 1853 and 1857, Church travelled in South America. One trip was financed by businessman Cyrus West Field, 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's Cosmos and his exploration of the continent; Humboldt had challenged artists to portray the "physiognomy" of the Andes.

Two years after returning to America, Church painted “The Heart of the Andes” (1859), now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at the Tenth Street Studio in New York City. It is more than five feet high and nearly ten feet in length. 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.

1859 Heart of the Andes 
oil on canvas 158 x 303.9 cm
Church showed his paintings at the annual exhibitions of the National Academy of Design, the American Art Union, and at the Boston Art Club, alongside Thomas Cole, Asher Brown Durand, 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.

In 1860 Church bought a farm in Hudson, New York and married Isabel Carnes. Both Church's first son and daughter died in March 1865 of diphtheria, 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 and the Middle East, allowing Church to return to painting larger works.

Before leaving on that trip, Church purchased the eighteen acres on the hilltop above his Hudson farm-land he had long wanted because of its magnificent views of the Hudson River 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 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 he was stricken with rheumatoid arthritis which greatly reduced his ability to paint. He eventually painted with his left hand and continued to produce his work although at 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 in 1900 and is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, Hartford, Connecticut.

Biographical notes from Wikipedia

This is part 1 of a 4 - part post on the works of Frederic Edwin Church:

1844-46c The Oxbow 
oil on canvas 50.8 x 76.2 cm

1845 Twilight among the Mountains 
oil on canvas 41.3 x 59.7 cm

1846 Hooker and Company Journeying through the Wilderness from Plymouth to Hartford, in 1636 
oil on canvas

1846 Moses Viewing the Promised Land
 oil on cardboard 25.4 x 31.7 cm

1846 New England Landscape with Ruined Chimney 
oil on panel 23.5 x 34.6 cm

1846c The Charter Oak at Hartford 
oil on canvas 61 x 87 cm

after 1847 Vision of the Cross
 oil on paperboard 17.9 x 25.5 cm

1847 July Sunset, Berkshire County, Massachusetts 
oil on canvas 73.7 x 101.6 cm

1847 New England Landscape 
oil on canvas 36.8 x 51.4 cm

1847 North Lake 
oil on canvas 30.5 x 48.3 cm

1847 Scene on the Catskill Creek, New York 
oil on canvas 54.6 x 75.6 cm

1847 Storm in the Mountains 
oil on canvas 75.5 x 62.8 cm

1847 The Charter Oak
 oil on canvas 56.2 x 76.5 cm

1847 View near Stockbridge, Massachusetts 
oil on canvas 69.2 x 101.6 cm

1847c Study for View near Stockbride, Massachusetts
 oil on canvas 19 x 27.9 cm

1847c Sunrise 
oil on paper 21.5 x 36.5 cm

1848 Morning, looking East over the Husdon Valley from Catskill Mountains 
oil on canvas 45.7 x 61 cm

1848 Rutland Falls, Vermont 
oil on canvas 50.8 x 75.6 cm

1848 To the Memory of Cole 
oil on canvas 81.3 x 124.5 cm

1848 View in Pittsford, Vermont 
oil on academy board 27.9 x 41.3 cm

1849 A Passing Storm 
oil on canvas 35.9 x 30.5 cm

1849 Above the Clouds at Sunrise 
oil on canvas 69.2 x 102.4 cm

1849 Lower Falls Rochester
 oil  on canvas 50.2 x 74.6 cm

1849 New England Landscape ( aka Evening after a Storm ) 
oil on canvas 63.8 x 92.1 cm

1849 New England Landscape 
oil on board 14 x 17.8 cm

1849 West Rock, New Haven 
oil on canvas 67.3 x 101.6 cm cm

1849-50 Ira Mountain, Vermont 
oil on board 103.2 x 156.5 cm

1849-50c On Otter Creek 
oil on canvas 45.7 x 61.6 cm

1850 Fog off Mount Desert
 oil on cardboard 30.5 x 39.4 cm

1850 Mt. Desert Island, Maine Coast
 oil on paper

1850 Otter Creek, Mt Desert 
oil on canvas 42.5 x 61 cm

1850 Rough Surf, Mount Desert Island 
oil on paper mounted on wood 31.7 x 41.3 cm

1850 The Abandoned Skiff 
oil on canvas 28 x 43.2 cm

1850 Twilight, 'Short Arbiter 'twixt Day and Night' 
oil on canvas 81.9 x 121.9

1850-55 Schoodic Peninsula from Mount Desert at Sunrise 
oil on paperboard 22.9 x 34.9 cm

1850-60 Eagle Lake Viewed from Cadillac Mountain, Mount Desert Island, Maine 
graphite and oil on paperboard 29.4 x 44.5 cm

1850c Mt. Desert Island 
graphite and oil on cardboard

1851 Beacon, off Mount Desert Island
 oil on canvas 78.7 x 116.8 cm

1851 Lake Scene in Mount Desert 
oil on canvas 52.6 x 78.4 cm

1851 New England Scenery 
oil on canvas

1851 View of Newport Mountain, Mount Desert 
oil on canvas 54 x 79.4 cm

1852 Coast Scene
 oil on canvas 50.6 x 76.2 cm

1852 Grand Manan Island, Bay of Fundy 
oil on canvas 55.4 x 81.1 cm

1852 Home by the Lake
 oil on canvas 81 3 x 122.5 cm

1852 Mountain Landscape with Mill, Cows and Stream 
oil on canvas 44.4 x 64.8 cm

1852 The Natural Bridge, Virginia 
oil on canvas 71.1 x 58.4 cm

1852 The Wreck 
oil on canvas 116.84 x 76.2

1853 A Waterfall in Colombia 
oil on paperboard 31.6 x 44.2 cm

1853 American Landscape 
oil on canvas 56.8 x 85.1 cm

1853 Autumn on the Hudson
 oil on canvas 50.8 x 76.2 cm

1853 Colombia, Baranquilla Church 
graphite amd oil on paperboard

1853 Colombia, Barranquilla, Two Houses 
graphite and oil on paperboard

1853 Cotopaxi seen from Ambato, Ecuador 
graphite and oil on paperboard 42.7 x 29.1 cm

1853 Mount Ktaadn ( aka Mount Katahdin ) 
oil on canvas 92.1 x 140.3 cm

1853 Study of Tequendama Falls near Bogotá, Colombia 
graphite wash and gouache on paper

1859 Heart of the Andes
oil on canvas 158 x 303.9 cm

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