Through American Eyes: Frederic Church landscapes at the National Gallery of Scotland

By Jenni Davidson | 21 May 2013

Exhibition preview: Through American Eyes - Frederic Church and the Landscape Oil Sketch, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, until September 8 2013

A painting of mountains at sunset
Frederic Edwin Church, Winter Twilight from Olana (circa 1871-2). Oil on paper© New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation / Olana State Historic Site, Hudson, NY (OL.1976.4)
Frederic Church was one of the first and greatest American of the American landscape painters.

The popular 19th century artist captured dramatic landscapes at exotic locations across the world, from Mexico to the Middle East.

He achieved recognition as a member of the Hudson River School, a group of American painters who founded the country’s tradition of landscape painting, but he is best known for his work in far-flung places.

A painting of a waterfall
Frederic Edwin Church, Niagara Falls, from the American Side (1867). Oil on Canvas. Scottish National Gallery, presented by John S. Kennedy, 1887.© National Galleries Scotland
The Scottish National Gallery is celebrating Church’s influence this summer exhibition of 25 of his sketches in oil.

A great lover of nature, Church often worked outdoors painting rapidly in oil. These sketches served both a preparation for large-scale paintings and as finished artworks in their own right.

The first exhibition to explore this side of Church’s work, it features sketches from home and abroad.

Winter Twilight from Olana and Sunrise (The Rising Sun) were both painted close to Church’s home in Hudson, New York State, while from further afield there are examples of Church’s international works such as Storm in the Blue Mountains, Jamaica; El Dair, Petra, Jordan and The Iceberg, which was painted off Labrador in Canada.

To contrast the sketches with the finished studio canvases, the exhibition also features one of Church’s finished paintings, the breathtaking Niagara Falls, from the American Side, painted in 1867.

The painting created a stir when it was first exhibited in London in 1868, illustrating the significance of Church’s work in bringing the wonders of the natural world to the public in an era before travel photography.

  • Open 10am-5pm (6pm during August, 7pm Thursday). Admission free. Follow the gallery on Twitter @NatGalleriesSco‎.
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