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Frederic Edwin Church

Frederic Edwin Church was an American Romantic landscape painter and mentee of Thomas Cole at the Hudson River School.

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, his father, Joseph Church, a silversmith and watchmaker, and his grandfather, Samuel Church, the founder of the first paper mill in Lee, Massachusetts, allowed Fredric to pursue his passion for art starting at a young age. At only 18, Frederic Edwin Church became Thomas Cole’s pupil in Catskill, New York.  Church studied under Cole for many years at his home and remained friends with him throughout his life.

Church, a lover of the marvels of nature, traveled the world to find his inspiration.  During his lifetime he traveled to South America, Europe, and the Middle East.  A few of his most notable works include, Ecuador (1855), Niagara (1857), and Cotopaxi (1862).  His painting, The Heart of the Andes (1859), now residing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, sold for $10,000 in 1859, making it the highest price ever paid for a work at that time. Church’s work was revered for his use of color and depiction of natural phenomena such as rainbows, mists, volcanoes, and the like.  He created a realistic, aesthetic experience connecting emotionally with his audience and bringing these exotic locations to life through his work. In 1849, he was made a member of the National Academy of Design.

Around 1877 he abandoned his travels and returned to Hudson, New York to build a home.  With his bride, Isabel Carnes, he purchased 18 acres on the hilltop above his farm.  He wanted his home to be where he could admire the magnificent view of the Hudson River and the Catskills.  He was forced to take a hiatus from painting in his old age because of rheumatism in his hands.

Church died April 7, 1900, at his Olana residence in Hudson, New York. This Persian-inspired mansion is now a state historic site and museum operated by the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation.