Frederic Edwin Church

born Hartford, CT 1826-died New York City 1900
Also known as
  • Frederick Edwin Church
  • Frederick E. Church
Hartford, Connecticut, United States
New York, New York, United States
Active in
  • Hudson, New York, United States
  • Maine, United States
  • Ecuador
  • Vermont, United States

Church and Thomas Cole, the two most esteemed painters of the Hudson River school, were associated from 1844 to 1846 as pupil and master. Church's early work, such as The Hooker Company Journeying Through the Wilderness, continues an allegorical trend of growing importance in Cole's late work. By the 1850s, however, Church leaned toward a more objective rendition of landscape, particularly in his New England scenes. Church is also well known for his South American views, his hugely successful Niagara, 1857 (The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), exotic subjects such as The Icebergs, 1861 (Dallas Museum of Fine Arts), and views of the Middle East. His comprehensive landscapes incorporate extensive botanical, meteorological, and geological information as well as an almost unshakable faith in a deistic universe.

David Huntington, The Landscapes of Frederic Edwin Church: Vision of an American Era (New York: Braziller, 1966); Kelly, Church; Franklin Kelly and Gerald L. Carr, The Early Landscapes of Frederic Edwin Church, 1845–1854 (Fort Worth: University of Texas Press, 1987).

William Truettner, ed The West as America: Reinterpreting Images of the Frontier, 1820–1920 (Washington, D.C. and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991)



An oil on canvas of a man lifting a curtain into his museum
The Great American Hall of Wonders
July 14, 2011January 8, 2012
The exhibition The Great American Hall of Wonders examines the nineteenth-century American belief that the people of the United States shared a special genius for innovation.
A painting of a bridge made from nature.
Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture
May 14, 2021July 11, 2021
The groundbreaking exhibition Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture reveals how the influential naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) shaped American perceptions of nature and the way American
Media - 1986.79 - SAAM-1986.79_2 - 133578
The Civil War and American Art
November 16, 2012April 28, 2013
The Civil War and American Art examines how America’s artists represented the impact of the Civil War and its aftermath.

Related Books

A book cover with a natural bridge painting.
Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture
Explorer and scientist Alexander von Humboldt left a lasting impression on American visual arts, sciences, literature, and politics.
The Civil War and American Art
The Civil War and American Art looks at the range of artwork created in the years between 1852 and 1877. Author Eleanor Jones Harvey surveys paintings made by some of America’s finest artists, including Frederic Edwin Church, Sanford Gifford, Winslow Homer, and Eastman Johnson, and photographs taken by George Barnard, Alexander Gardner, and Timothy O’Sullivan.
The Great American Hall of Wonders
The Great American Hall of Wonders is a vividly illustrated survey of the American ingenuity that energized all aspects of nineteenth-century society, from the painting of landscapes and scenes of everyday life to the planning of scientific expedition and the development of new mechanical devices. Each chapter comprises an essay and a selection from more than 120 illustrations. These include works by pre-eminent painters Winslow Homer, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Church and Thomas Cole.