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Church, Frederic Edwinlocked

American, 19th century, male.

Born 4 May 1826 , in Hartford (Connecticut); died 7 April 1900 , in New York.

Painter. Landscapes.

CHURCH, Frederic Edwin: signature or monogram (Copyright www.ArtistsSignatures.com)

CHURCH, Frederic Edwin: signature or monogram (Copyright www.ArtistsSignatures.com)

Frederic Edwin Church studied under Thomas Cole in Catskill, New York, and was an admirer of J. M. W. Turner. Keeping New York as his base, he made many journeys that provided him with subjects for his painting. When he returned from South America in 1859, he exhibited a painting that caused quite a stir, The Heart of the Andes, and in 1863 he painted Icebergs, a memory of Labrador. He visited the West Indies and then made his first journey to Europe, visiting Greece and Palestine and returning with a series of works.

For Church, the grandiose landscapes he chose to paint were symbolic of a desire to reach God, and such landscapes were a sign of God’s grace to the nations that possessed them. This philosophy led him to a form of nationalism that is well represented by his coloured lithograph Our Flag in the Sky, in which the sky seems to re-create the American flag. Niagara Falls is symbolic because of the great power it suggests. He uses the rainbow to evoke the new departure inherent in the New World, and trees are symbols of the new man, the guardian of these impressive landscapes. Church’s landscapes are often fantastic, almost Surreal, as in Twilight in the Wilderness, with its sky heavy with flaming clouds, its mauve mountains, and its black trees. His most famous work is Niagara Falls (1857), which was bought by the railroad magnate John Taylor Johnston for 5,000 GBP when the Corcoran Art Gallery, Washington, DC, sold its collection. The work had been awarded a second-class medal at the Paris Exposition of 1867.

To create such highly detailed landscape paintings, Church relied on a variety of reference materials, including sketches based on firsthand observation, prints, and photographs. Such aide-mémoire were important studio tools that served to recall details of far-off locales. Church seems to have found photography especially essential to his work process, especially for correcting perspective or capturing details of local flora and geology with accuracy. Not only did Church occasionally hire photographers to accompany his sketching expeditions, but on at least one occasion, Church also annotated photographic images with paint. Although there is no evidence that Church himself made photographs, he amassed a collection of approximately 5,700 prints at Olana, his house in Hudson, New York, overlooking the river valley.

Group Exhibitions

1852, Royal Academy, London

1867, Paris Exposition

2001, The Heroic and the Everyday: American Artists, 1820–1920 (L’Heroïque et le quotidien: les artistes Américains, 1820–1920), Musée d’Art Américain, Giverny

2002, American Sublime, Tate Britain, London

2002, Expedition Art. The Discovery of Nature from C. D. Friedrich to Humboldt (Expedition Kunst. Die Entdechung der Natur von C. D. Friedrich bis Humboldt), Kunsthalle, Hamburg (an exhibition that explored the links between the natural sciences and landscape painting)

2006, Frederic Church, Winslow Homer and Thomas Moran: Tourism and the American Landscape, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York

Solo Exhibitions

1987, The Early Landscapes of Frederic Edwin Church, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth (TX)

2000, In Search of the Promised Land: Paintings by Frederic Edwin Church, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago

Museum and Gallery Holdings

Chicago (AI): View of Cotopaxi (1857, oil on canvas)

Chicago (Terra Foundation for American Art Collection): Our Banner in the Sky (1861, oil on paper)

Cleveland, OH (MA): Twilight in the Wilderness (1860, oil on canvas)

Dallas, TX (MA): The Icebergs (1861, oil on canvas)

Edinburgh (Nat. Gal. of Scotland): Niagara Falls, from the American Side (1867, oil on canvas)

Fort Worth, TX (Amon Carter Mus.): New England Landscape (c. 1849, oil on canvas)

Hartford, CT (Wadsworth Atheneum): Coast Scene, Mount Desert (Sunrise off the Maine Coast) (1863, oil on canvas)

Kansas City (Nelson-Atkins MA): Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives (1870, oil on canvas)

New York (Metropolitan Mus. of Art): Heart of the Andes (1859, oil on canvas); The Parthenon (1871, oil on canvas); The Aegean Sea (c. 1877, oil on canvas)

Portland, ME (MA): Mount Katahdin (1853, oil on canvas)

St Louis, MO (GA, Washington University): Twilight: Mount Desert Island, Maine (1865, oil on canvas); Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (1883, oil on canvas)

Wilmington, DE (Delaware AM): South American Landscape (oil on canvas)

Auction Records

New York, 1876: Niagara Falls, FRF 62,500

Boston, 1880: New England Landscape, FRF 2,375

New York, 19 Jan 1906: Morning in the Tropics, USD 1,500

New York, 4–5 Feb 1931: South American Landscape (1873) USD 225

New York, 15 Nov 1967: Landscape, USD 850

New York, 28 Jan 1970: Autumn Landscape, USD 3,250

New York, 28 Oct 1971: Isthmus of Panama, USD 10,500

New York, 19 Oct 1972: Ruins of Baalbek, USD 14,000

New York, 29 April 1976: South American Mountain Landscape (c. 1855–1859, oil on canvas, 12 × 18 ins/30.5 × 46 cm) USD 6,000

New York, 27 Oct 1978: New England Landscape (c. 1849–1852, oil on canvas, 25 × 36 ins/63.5 × 91.4 cm) USD 230,000

New York, 25 Oct 1979: Magdalena River, Ecuador (oil on canvas remounted on hardboard, 10 × 8 ins/25.4 × 20.3 cm) USD 27,000

New York, 2 June 1983: View of Newport Mountain, Mount Desert (1851, oil on canvas, 21¼ × 31¼ ins/54 × 79.4 cm) USD 200,000

New York, 4 Dec 1986: Sunset (1866, oil on canvas, 12 × 19 ins/30.5 × 48.3 cm) USD 110,000

New York, 1 Dec 1988: Mountain Landscape (oil on paper/canvas, 10½ × 16½ ins/26.7 × 42 cm) USD 44,000

New York, 24 May 1989: Cottage near the Lake (in the Catskills) (1852, oil on canvas, 32 × 48¼ ins/81.3 × 122.5 cm) USD 8,250,000

New York, 30 Nov 1989: Tropical Landscapes (1856, oil on canvas, 12 × 18 ins/30.5 × 45.7 cm) USD 198,000

New York, 14 Feb 1990: Old Lyme Church (1910, oil on canvas, 26 × 32 ins/66 × 81.2 cm) USD 14,300

New York, 24 May 1990: Tropical Landscape (oil on canvas, 11 × 16¼ ins/27.9 × 41.3 cm) USD 242,000

New York, 22 May 1991: Sunset on the Isthmus of Panama (1883, oil on paper/canvas, 6¼ × 9 ins/16.1 × 22 cm) USD 18,700

New York, 3 Dec 1992: Mount Katahdin from Millinocket Camp (1895, oil on canvas, 27 × 44 ins/68.6 × 111.8 cm) USD 159,500

New York, 29 Nov 1995: Landscape with Waterfall (1858, oil on canvas, 18 × 30 ins/45.7 × 76.2 cm) USD 415,000

New York, 4 Dec 1996: New England Landscape (1849, oil on panel, 5½ × 7 ins/14 × 17.8 cm) USD 28,750

New York, 5 June 1997: View of Eisbee (1881, oil on canvas/panel, 23¼ × 32¼ ins/59 × 81.8 cm) USD 107,000

New York, 26 May 1999: Otter Creek, Middlebury, Vermont (1854, oil on canvas, 16 × 24 ins/41 × 61 cm) USD 240,000

New York, 27 May 1999: To the Memory of Cole (1848, oil on canvas, 32 × 49 ins/81 × 124 cm) USD 4,300,000

New York, 25 May 2000: Mount Newport on Mount Desert Island (oil on canvas, 17 × 25 ins/44 × 63 cm) USD 3,800,000

New York, 22 May 2002: Salzburg Castle (c. 1868, oil on canvas, 11 × 15 ins/28 × 39 cm) USD 50,000

New York, 3 Dec 2002: Study for ‘The Iceberg’ (oil on paperboard on canvas, 8 × 13 ins/21 × 33 cm) USD 380,000

New York, 21 May 2003: Setting Sun (1864, oil on panel, 9 × 14 ins/24 × 36 cm) USD 165,000; Lumber Mill, Mount Desert Island (c. 1850, oil on canvas, 14 × 20 ins/36 × 51 cm) USD 700,000

New York, 18 May 2005: The Highlands of the Hudson River (1866, oil on canvas, 14 × 21 ins/35.6 × 53.4 cm) USD 1,052,000 (premium)

New York, 29 Nov 2006: Winter on the Hudson River, Near Catskill, New York (c. 1870–1879, 8 × 10 ins/20.3 × 25.4 cm) USD 660,000 (premium)

New York, 23 May 2007: Tropical Landscape (c. 1882, 10 × 16 ins/25.4 × 40.6 cm) USD 480,000 (premium)

St Louis, 16 Sept 2007: The Old Mill (1852, oil on canvas, 17½ × 25½ ins/44.4 × 64.8 cm) USD 2,300,000

New York, 20 May 2009: Twilight in the Tropics (1874, oil on canvas, 30 × 25¼ ins/76.2 × 64 cm) USD 1,274,000 (premium)

New York, 30 Nov 2011: Twilight (1863, oil on canvas laid on board, 13 × 22½ ins/33 × 57.2 cm) USD 3,218,500 (premium)

New York, 28 Nov 2012: Twilight Mount Ktaadn (c. 1858–1860, oil on paper laid on board, 10½ × 13¾ ins/27 × 35 cm) USD 722,500 (premium)

New York, 27 Feb 2013: View of Kaaterskill Cove, New York(1867, oil on paper, 8¾ × 11½ ins/22.2 × 29.2 cm) USD 25,000 (premium)

New York, 4 Dec 2013: Final Study for the Icebergs (1860, oil on canvas laid on masonite, 10 × 18 ins/25.4 × 46 cm) USD 905,000 (premium)

Bibliography

  • Dee, Elaine Evans: To Embrace the Universe: Drawing by Frederic Edwin Church, exhibition catalogue, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers (NY), 1984.
  • Kelly, Franklin: ‘Frederic Edwin Church and the National Landscape’, in coll. New directions in American Art, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, 1988.
  • Carr, Gerald L.: Olana Landscapes: The World of Frederic E. Church, Rizzoli, New York, 1989.
  • Kelly, Franklin: Frederic Edwin Church, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 1989.
  • Carr, Gerald L.: Frederic Edwin Church: Catalogue Raisonné of Works of Art at Olana State Historic Site, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (UK), 1994.
  • Carr, Gerald L.: In Search of the Promised Land: paintings by Frederic Edwin Church, exhibition catalogue, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago; Berry-Hill Galleries, New York, 2000.
  • Fels, Thomas Weston/Avery, Kevin J.: Fire and Ice: Treasures from the Photographic Collection of Frederic Church at Olana, Dahesh Museum of Art, New York, 2002.
  • Howat, John K.: Frederic Church, Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 2005.
  • Bloemink, Barbara J., and others: Frederic Church, Winslow Homer, and Thomas Moran: Tourism and the American Landscape, exhibition catalogue, Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York, 2006.