Painter Frederic Church (1826-1900) designed every detail of his exotic Persian mansion and expansive surrounding landscape as works of art. Every view overlooking New York’s Hudson River Valley– from every window, door, and balcony– is carefully planned and framed. Every facet of the landscape, including woodlands, open fields, lake, and carriage roads were planned or planted to offer quiet scenes and sweeping vistas no less grand than Church’s spectacular canvases. Olana, as Church named the property, is one of his greatest masterpieces.
It’s also intimidating as hell to paint. In part, that’s because the sky and sweeping views are so vast, and the house—both inside and out—is so full of architectural details. But it’s also Church’s stature as one of the 19th century’s most preeminent American painters that makes it hard not feel small, even foolish, when attempting to paint his view. I took a half hour on Church’s front step to try anyway, and made several smaller sketches from photos later. I much prefer the small stuff, and plan to stick to my own backyard for a while.
Church would be flattered…….
well… maybe by my take on his sideburns.
Jean, Amy Hufnagel is the Education Director at Olana and she was on my first Audubon Bus and her father, Bill Hufnagel, now deceased, was on the AEI Board of Directors for years. Maybe you have met her, but if not, you two should definitely meet. There is some collaboration the two of you could do. Love this work you do … so inspiring. Coleen
Thanks Coleen! I haven’t met her but I’m happy to know of the AEI connection and will reach out. Hope all is well on your end! Glad you’re following.
Olana and it’s views are breathtaking. No wonder Church is the preeminent Hudson River School painter.
It’s quite a spectacular place…and now its practically in my backyard, so I’ll enjoy returning to take advantage of all it offers.
Well, you did a fantastic job! Your art is beautiful and I like how you lay it out on the page.
It was a challenging place to paint, for sure, but there are more than a lifetime of subjects at Olana to choose from. I enjoyed being in Church’s studio and seeing his brushes and paints!
And I enjoy seeing what beauty you create. You have a special gift and that is wonderful! One day I would like to learn to paint with water colors. So, you are inspiring me. Thank you! 🙂
Frederic Church was one the greatest of Landscape 19th Century Painters. I wrote an article on my Blog Last year about Church ,Duncanson, Cropsey and Durand who were also great 19th Century Landscape Painters Thanks for the post. Laurence
Thanks Laurence. Yes indeed. Add Thomas Cole to your list. I’m fortunate to live fairly close to their stomping grounds in New York’s Hudson Valley.
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