Frederic E. Church (1826-1900)
oil on canvas, 48 x 84 in.
Frederic Church was one of the leading American landscape painters of the 19th century and a key figure in the so-called Hudson River School, launched by his mentor, Thomas Cole, in the 1820s.
Although Church frequently depicted the grandeur of American scenery, he traveled widely and his subjects ranged from icebergs in the Arctic to ancient ruins in the Mediterranean to the jungles of South America. Chimborazo
is one of three monumental canvases that resulted from two trips Church made to Ecuador and Colombia in the 1850s. The others are: The Heart of the Andes
(Metropolitan Museum of Art) and Cotopaxi
(Detroit Institute of Art). Together and individually, they present a sublime view of nature in all of its magnificence and reflect the ideas of the European naturalist, Alexander von Humboldt, who wrote of the unspoiled beauty of South America. His writings were known to Church. Rich in detail, Chimborazo
is not a topographically accurate view. Rather it compresses into one painting the various environments found in Ecuador--the high desert, the mountains, and the jungle.