FREDERIC CHURCH'S LANDSCAPES OF MOUNT DESERT AND MOUNT KATAHDIN
Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery
June 9-October 27, 2013
Frederic Church was America's most important painter during the middle years of the 19th century. While famous for his scenes of the Arctic, South America, and the Near East, his landscapes of Maine were central to his career for over four decades. This exhibition explores first his early mastery of the conventions of art history, the expressions of national history during his maturity, and finally the poignant reflections of personal history in his later years. Guest curated by John Wilmerding, the Christopher Binyon Sarofim Professor of American art, emeritus, at Princeton University.
Maine Sublime includes 10 oil and 13 pencil sketches from the Olana collection that celebrate the glories of Maine scenery. Many will be on public view for the first time, including the vibrant plein-air sketch Wood Interior near Mount Katahdin, c. 1877. Loans of 4 important works from the Portland Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC and private collections will augment the sketches from Olana. The early and spectacular Newport Mountain from Mount Desert, 1851 from the National Gallery of Art depicting nature’s more awesome character in the turbulent surf and looming mountain will be displayed alongside the related sketch, also from the National Gallery of Art, Fog off Mount Desert, 1850.
The artist first journeyed to Maine in the summer of 1850 spending six weeks on Mount Desert exploring the coast, its rocky Islands, and peaceful harbors. He sketched the scenery which he described as “magnificent both land and seaward,” capturing the splendid sky effects in Sunset Bar Harbor, 1854. In 1852 he trekked inland focusing on the area of Mount Katahdin. Over the next decades Church continued to visit Maine capturing sensational sunsets, robust crashing waves, impressive peaks, and an abundance of wilderness.
Wilmerding’s analysis of the paintings inspired by Maine reveals Church as both a public and private artist. “The work done in Maine during the 1850s and early 1860s, primarily at Mount Desert, embodied sentiments of increasing national strife, in symbolic and suggestive ways, while the career of the later 1860s and 1870s was devoted more to his personal time in inland Maine around Mount Katahdin,” explains Wilmerding. Featured in the exhibition is Twilight, A Sketch, 1858 the study for Church’s great masterpiece Twilight in the Wilderness, 1860 (Cleveland Museum of Art), which reflects the tensions surrounding the impending Civil War. Mount Katahdin from Millinocket Camp, 1895 on loan from the Portland Museum was the artist’s last major Maine canvas and a birthday gift to his wife— a work of great personal significance that both enhances the exhibition and directly relates to the artist’s life at Olana.
The Maine material presented in the exhibition ranges from finished oil sketches that Church displayed in his home to pencil sketches and cartoons that he stored in portfolios and shared with friends, fellow artists and guests. A delightful pencil rendering of the newly married artist and his wife enjoying the bracing coastal winds on one of their first trips to Maine, will be give visitors a glimpse of Church’s witty nature.
Special gallery only tours will be available Saturdays June 15-October 26 on the hour from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. To make a reservation call 518.828.0135.
A full color exhibition catalog is available at the Olana Museum Shop.
This exhibition is organized by The Olana Partnership and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
The organizers of "Maine Sublime: Frederic Edwin Church's Landscapes of Mount Desert and Mount Katahdin" wish to acknowledge the generous early support received from
Susan Winokur and Paul Leach
The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation
This exhibition and the accompanying book were made possible by major grants from
The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, Inc.
The New York State Council on the Arts Museum Program
The Wyeth Foundation for American Art
Additional support has been provided by
Valerie and Brock Ganeles
The Olana Exhibition Fund
The Olana Partnership's Jack Warner Fund for Creativity and Innovation
Gary Schiro and Robert Burns
Evelyn Trebilcock and Douglas Hammond
Barrie A. and Deedee Wigmore
Eli Wilner & Co., NYC
We are particularly grateful to Henry and Sharon Martin for their commitment and dedication to supporting the development of high quality catalogues in conjunction with Olana exhibitions.
Support for John Wilmerding's lectures in conjunction with the exhibition at each venue was provided by CHRISTIE'S.
The Trustees and staff of The Olana Partnership wish to recognize the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo; New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey; Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation Ruth Pierpont; Regional Director, Taconic Region Linda Cooper; former Director of the Bureau of Historic Sites John Lovell; Acting Director of the Bureau of Historic Sites Mark Peckham; former Olana Site Manager Linda McLean, and Olana Site Manager Kimberly Flook.
With additional support provided by public funds
from the Museum Program of the New York State
Council on the Arts, a State agency.
Art Meets Art: Perspectives on and Beyond Olana
Olana's Coachman's House Gallery
June 9-October 27, 2013
The Olana Partnership and the Hudson Opera House present the exhibition Art Meets Art: Perspectives On and Beyond Olana. The exhibition guest curated by Richard Roth showcases thirty-five contemporary artists who live and work in the area around Hudson, New York. The exhibition will display photographs, paintings, posters and multi-media works inspired by Olana: the family home, studio, estate and working farm created as an environment embracing architecture, art, landscape and views by the eminent Hudson River School painter, Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900). All the works will be available for sale to benefit both The Olana Partnership and the Hudson Opera House.
Each artist was invited to create a new artwork directly inspired by Frederic Edwin Church’s most personal artistic masterpiece, Olana. The artists spent time within the iconic house and throughout Church’s 250 acre artist-designed landscape, utilizing the nineteenth-century painter’s home on the Hudson as muse. Artists featured include Peter Aaron, Marina Abromovic, Carolyn Blackwood, R.O. Blechman, DJ Spooky, Makoto Fujimura and Annie Leibowitz.
Through American Eyes Frederic Church and the Landscape Oil Sketch
Scottish National Gallery
May 11-September 8, 2013
National Gallery London
February 6-April 28, 2013
To read about the exhibition click here.
Maine Sublime: Frederic Edwin Church's Landscapes from Mount Desert and Mount Katahdin
Portland Museum of Art
June 30-September 30, 2012
Life after LIFE: Preserving Olana
The Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery
May 19-October 31, 2012
Nearly a half century ago, Olana was nearly destroyed. Olana Preservation, a group of concerned art historians, preservationists and individuals living in the Hudson Valley and New York City, joined forces to save Frederic Church's three-dimensional masterpiece. A LIFE Magazine article entitled "Must This Mansion Be Destroyed?" brought national attention to the campaign and ensured the venture's success. In 1966 Olana Preservation and New York State partnered to purchase Olana and establish it as a state historic site. This collaborative effort has provided a standard of excellence for the preservation of this national treasure— moving well beyond "the mansion" to undertake major restoration projects throughout the 250-acre designed landscape.
Since 1966, when Olana was saved from being sold and the collection dispersed at auction, The Olana Partnership (the descendant of Olana Preservation) and New York State have worked together in an extraordinary public-private partnership, investing millions of dollars and countless hours of staff and volunteer hours to preserve Olana. Life after LIFE: Preserving Olana will discuss past and future projects to restore the landscape, the farm complex, the house, and the collections—all critical elements of the integrated artistic and personal environment that Church spent four decades creating. We invite our visitors to join the campaign to preserve Church's last and arguably most enduring work of art, Olana.
Olana was designed by Church to include a farm complex, orchards, meadows, parkland, a native woodland, a manmade lake, and a Persian-inspired house, all connected by five miles of carriage roads that offered spectacular views of the Hudson River valley. On view for the first time is the 1886 Plan of Olana by artist's son Fredric Joseph, which illustrates Church's vision for his property. Future restoration efforts will include the revival of Church's ornamental and working farm.
The first piece of property that Church purchased in 1860 was a working farm—and Church maintained the working portion of the estate throughout his lifetime. By the 1960s many of the farm buildings were in disrepair and some had been lost. Focused preservation of the farm area began in 2006 with the restoration of the Churches' first home, Cosy Cottage, nestled in the farm complex. Church's only oil sketch of the building, shown in the exhibition, aided in the recreation of a missing wing. The extant barns are being preserved and missing buildings are being re-created. The Wagon House was recreated in 2008 using historic surveys, archeological evidence and historic photographs. By early fall the vantage point from atop Crown Hill, one of Church's great landscape features, will once again provide views over Olana's historic farm complex.
The exhibition further explores the extensive efforts to preserve the Olana viewshed. Church designed both the landscape and the house to frame the views. Thousands of visitors come every year to admire the unparalleled views toward four states. Olana works with Scenic Hudson, the Columbia Land Conservancy, The Open Space Institute, and neighbors to preserve the historic viewshed for future generations. To date more than 2,000 acres have been protected.
A multi-year project to restore the main house began in 2001. The entire stone façade was re-pointed, broken slates on the bell tower were restored and replaced, the windows and doors were painted and decorative cornice stencils were recreated. Inside the house paintings, furniture, textiles and decorative objects have been preserved. All these projects help convey the richness of Church's original vision and intent for the decoration and displays of the rooms within his home. Other projects are less visible but imperative to preservation. In 2006 a state-of-the-art fire detection and suppression system was installed. In addition to safeguarding the house and collections, the system allowed for the opening of the second floor, enabling visitors to tour the Churches bedroom, dressing room and to open a new space for annual exhibitions: the Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery.
OLANA'S DYNAMIC LANDSCAPE: PHOTOGRAPHS BY PETER AARON
Olana Coachman's House Gallery
May 19-October 31, 2012
Peter Aaron is a pioneer in combining cinematic style with architectural photography techniques. Now working with digital capture, his well-composed, trademark images are always lively and luminous. He studied organic chemistry at St Edmund Hall, Oxford University, and received a BA in physics from Bard College and an MFA from the New York University Institute of Film and Television. He worked as a film cameraman before deciding to concentrate on architectural photography which has been his specialty for over 35 years. Peter's experience as Ezra Stoller's assistant was transformational. After two years of apprenticeship he adapted his mentor's techniques, and began integrating dramatic camera angles with theatrical lighting. He is a contributing photographer with Architectural Digest and his images also frequently appear in other books and magazines. Recently Aaron has spoken about his work at the Architectural League in New York, at the Soho Apple store and to the ASMP photographers architectural photography group.
Rally 'Round the Flag: Frederic Edwin Church and the Civil War
The Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery
May 26-October 30, 2011
Two weeks before the scheduled debut of Hudson River School landscape painter Frederic Church's masterwork The Icebergs, Fort Sumter was bombarded marking the start of the American Civil War. Instead of cancelling the unveiling of the painting at Goupil's Gallery, Church re-titled his masterpiece: "The North" Church's Picture of Icebergs showing his support for the northern cause.
Church also pledged exhibition fees to assist the Union's Patriotic Fund for the families of Union soldiers. Less than a month later, in further support, and in response to the patriotic fever that swept the North, in May 1861 Church painted "Our Banner in the Sky" – a sunrise resembling a Union Flag. The image became a popular chromolithograph issued by Goupil & Co.
2011 will mark the Sesquicentennial of the fall of Fort Sumter and the start of the Civil War. Olana's exhibition will examine Church's reaction to the conflict as an artist and how events involving his friends and colleagues affected him personally.The exhibition will include: 4 oil sketches by Church; 2 pencil sketches by Church; 2 chromolithographs after Church; and works by Isaac Hayes and John Jameson.
In conjunction with the exhibition, "Rally 'round the Flag: Frederic Edwin Church and the Civil War," Dr. Kevin J. Avery has written a wonderful essay related to the exhibition for the academic journal The Hudson River Valley Review, a publication of the Hudson River Valley Institute (HRVI) at Marist College. The journal is available for sale at The Olana Museum Store, or through HRVI. Click here to learn more about HRVI or to obtain a copy through subscription. Dr Avery has also contributed an article on the John S. Jameson section of the exhibition for the August issue of American Art Review - on newsstands now. Please click here to read an expanded version of that essay with complete historical references.
AGRICULTURAL LIFE OF THE HUDSON VALLEY | Photography by Brandt Bolding
Olana Coachman's House Gallery
June 18- October 30, 2011
Brandt Bolding's photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the northeastern part of the U.S. and have appeared in newspapers, journals, and publications by various preservation organizations in New York State. He became interested in historic preservation in the course of his architectural and interior design work, photographing and recording historical architectural details. This interest evolved into preservation and photographic documentation of the historic agricultural structures and farms in his home state of New York, specifically the Hudson, Mohawk, and Schoharie River valleys. He has traveled extensively in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine, photographing the farms, barns, and agricultural communities there as well. He is the son-in-law of the late Ted Croner, renowned New York photographer and protégé of Edward Steichen.
Fern Hunting Among These Picturesque Mountains: Frederic Edwin Church in Jamaica
June 5 - October 31, 2010
In 1865, Frederic Church, an avid traveler with a special passion for the tropics, journeyed to Jamaica. This was unlike his previous expeditions, as he and his wife, Isabel, were escaping from intense personal grief: the loss of their two young children. Throwing himself into the exploration and documentation of the island, the renowned artist produced a variety of works ranging from delicate pen sketches of palm trees to oil sketches of the atmospheric Blue Mountains and brilliant sunsets. The importance of the trip is reflected in the number of studies Church chose to mount, frame, and display at Olana, which became a major attraction for visitors to his home. The best of the related sketches and paintings from Jamaica comprise the exhibit.
See the Fern Hunting exhibition on Facebook »
In the Footsteps of Frederic Church: Photos by Larry Lederman
Olana Coachman's House
June 5 - October 31, 2010
Larry Lederman is a photographer and writer who has traveled to many of the locations Frederic Church visited. This exhibition displays photographs of a number of sites that Frederic Church painted and seek to evoke his artistic vision and explore his art. The photographs affirm that many of the wilderness enclaves Church painted still exist, preserved as part of our heritage because of the beauty that he and other nineteenth century painters captured. Autographed copies of the photos will be available for sale in the Olana museum store, and are also available online.
Glories of the Hudson: Frederic Edwin Church's Views From Olana
May 23 – October 12, 2009
The site is the result of a careful study of the river-banks, and commands so many views of varied beauty, that all the glories of the Hudson may be said to circle it.
– H. W. French, Art and Artists in Connecticut, 1879
In 1609, Henry Hudson sailed up the river that now bears his name. This exhibition marked the Quadricentennial of his discovery by highlighting Frederic Church’s sketches of the prospect from his hilltop home overlooking the river.
Church made his first sketch of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains from Red Hill – the south end of the property that became Olana – in 1845, on a sketching expedition suggested by his teacher Thomas Cole. Returning to the Valley in 1860 as the nation’s most famous and best-paid artist, Church settled on a farm on the lower slope of the Sienghenbergh, securing for himself and his new wife a splendid vantage point for studying, sketching, and painting the river. Church continued to add land to his property, attaining new and varied vistas of the river. He crowned the estate with a Persian inspired house designed to frame splendid views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains.
Church never tired of his views of the river, documenting his passion for the Hudson in paintings, oil sketches, and drawings. From Olana, he observed the transformations wrought by the changing seasons, weather, and light, capturing chilly winter snows, brilliant sunsets, and passing storms in sketches executed with a few brush strokes or autumn colors and clear winter light in more finished easel paintings. Often Church was so pleased with the results that he mounted and framed sketches for display in his home. At other times they remained as personal references in the many portfolios of sketches the artist kept for his own private viewing and remembrance.
This inaugural exhibition of the Evelyn & Maurice Sharp Gallery featured a full-color, hardcover catalogue published by Cornell University Press and The Olana Partnership, with an essay by curator Evelyn Trebilcock and associate curator Valerie Balint, an introduction by Kenneth John Myers, Curator of American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and a forward by John K. Howat, Church scholar and former Lawrence A. Fleischman Chairman of the Departments of American Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
See the Glories exhibition on Facebook »
Treasures From Olana: Landscapes by Frederic Edwin Church
Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900) was probably the most renowned American artist of the Civil War era. Trained by Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School of landscape painters, and stimulated by the writings of the famed explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, Church early demonstrated immense talent and global curiosity. He traveled extensively, and in his New York City studio painted monumental pictures of subjects in North and South America, the sub-Arctic, Europe, and the Near East. From the late 1850s to the 1870s, he displayed his most ambitious canvases as quasi-theatrical events, drawing thousands of people in America and Great Britain to his exhibitions, and marketing many of his works in fine engravings and lithographs.
Church amassed wealth sufficient to design and build a large estate, called Olana, in upstate New York for himself and his family, and his prominence was such that in 1870 he was both elected a founding trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and appointed to the Board of the New York City Parks Commission. Though his reputation subsequently faded, Church and his art enjoyed an enthusiastic revival in the second half of the twentieth century. His works now enhance the collections of museums throughout the United States and in Europe, and have been the subject of many exhibitions.
As striking in their way as any of Church's major paintings are his small oil studies and sketches, many executed wholly or partly in the field and several in the studio as designs for the major works. During his residence at Olana, Church framed many of those pictures, including a few large paintings, expressly for presentation in his home, and over a hundred others remain preserved there. Treasures from Olana represents a small selection of the finest of Church's sketches and studies from the house—most of them he is known to have displayed on its walls—as well as Olana's most important large painting, El Khasné, Petra. In 1875 he made El Khasné a gift to his wife, Isabel, and installed it over the fireplace in the Sitting Room.
See the Treasures exhibition on Facebook »