Frederic Edwin Church’s The Falls of Tequendama, Near Bogotá, New Grenada

Meet the Artists of Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture

A painting of a waterfall

Frederic Edwin Church, The Falls of Tequendama, Near Bogotá, New Grenada, 1854, oil on canvas 60 7/16 x 48 1/16 in., Cincinnati Art Museum, The Edwin and Virginia Irwin Memorial.

About this Artwork

Church returned from his seven months in South America determined to paint pictures that encapsulated all he had learned from Humboldt’s writings and engravings. Humboldt had described Tequendama Falls in comparison to Niagara Falls and Church based his composition on Humboldt’s engraving of the cataract. Church made a suite of drawings on site to include as much detailed information as possible. Each of the pencil sketches from 1853, contains plants that the artist included in this painting. Church also made several compositional drawings of the cascade. This was Church’s largest painting to date and he envisioned it as an homage to Humboldt, a demonstration of how fully he had absorbed the Prussian naturalist’s teachings about how to study nature.