Frederic Edwin Church (1826 – 1900): Cotopaxi (detail)

Frederic Edwin Church (1826 – 1900): Cotopaxi (detail)

2/19/2021, 11:17:24 AM
Frederic Edwin Church (1826 – 1900): Cotopaxi (detail), 1855, Oil on canvas, 30 x 46 7/16 in., The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas Frederic Edwin Church approached his subject matter as both an artist and a scientist. Inspired by the writings of the German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, Church visited the mountainous terrain of South America twice, in 1853 and 1857. In this untamed “New World”—and particularly in what was then the highest active volcano in the world, the mighty Ecuadorian Cotopaxi—Church saw the perfect symbol of primeval nature and the spiritual renewal it could bring to civilization. This view of the smoldering cone of Cotopaxi (which means “shining mass” in Incan) was completed after Church’s first trip to South America. Drawing on copious sketches and notes made while traveling, Church forged a large picture style that distilled epic narrative to its essence. He presented an astonishing array of natural effects, rendered with precision and flair on a scale hitherto confined to European History painting best known from the French salons of the 18th and 19th-centuries. In 'Cotapaxi', the viewer is suspended over an abyss, confronted by smoke and mists, a burning sun and dramatic effects of light. Church often selected and assembled spectacular effects that verged on the improbable, but his deeply held conviction that God was made manifest in Nature precluded the possibility of exaggeration or distortion. One of at least ten finished canvases featuring the Andean volcano that Church executed over the course of almost two decades, this painting represents an intermediate vision between his more naturalistic early pieces and the dramatic, transcendental works of his mature career. (👆 Full painting in three parts and some astonishing details are in my story ☝️)

Related posts