Frederic Edwin Church’s Mount Chimborazo through Rising Mist and Clouds

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

A painting of a mountain

Frederic Edwin Church, Mount Chimborazo through Rising Mist and Clouds, 1857, oil and pencil on paperboard, 13 9/16 x 21 1/8 in. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Gift of Louis P. Church, 1917-4-824, Photo © Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

About this Artwork

This study of Chimborazo dates from Church’s second trip to South America in 1857. The artist spent four months studying what by that time was known as “Humboldt’s mountain.” When Humboldt climbed it in 1802 it was believed to be the world’s tallest peak. Humboldt had ascended to 19,413 feet, a mountaineering record that stood for thirty years. Church, too, attempted to climb the mountain’s lower slopes. He used this sketch to determine how to situate the snow-capped peak in another major homage to Humboldt, Heart of the Andes, which he completed in 1859.