Friday, February 15, 2013

Through American Eyes: Frederic Church and the Landscape Oil Sketch

Majestic scenes and striking colouration dramatise the works on display in The National Gallery’s exhibition Through American Eyes: Frederic Church and the Landscape Oil Sketch. The spring exhibition explores the remarkably fresh and spontaneous oil sketches of Frederic Church (1826–1900), considered by many to be the greatest American exponent of the landscape oil sketch.

Church’s oil sketches reveal the freshness of his work and the spontaneity of his style as he captured scenes out of doors, some of which he elaborated later in the studio. Regarded as one of the most ambitious of the Hudson River School landscape painters, his works reveal his voracious appetite for travel to locations as distant as

Ecuador, 'View of Cotpaxi' 1857

Jordan, 'Ed Deir, Petra' (1868);

Jamaica, 'Sunset, Jamaica' (1865);

Germany, 'Königssee, Bavaria' (1868);

and the waters off Labrador where he studied icebergs.

The exhibition also includes works executed closer to Church’s home on the Hudson in Upstate New York including

'Winter Twilight from Olana' (about 1871-2)

and 'Hudson, New York at Sunset' (1867)

which reflect his interest in the American landscape and his exploration of the effect of light.

This exhibition, the first opportunity to examine Church’s oil sketch achievement in depth on this side of the Atlantic, is organised with and through major support from the Terra Foundation for American Art. The show unites some 30 oil sketches and includes loans from Olana, Church’s rural estate along the Hudson River and now a New York State Historic Site, and the collections of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York. Church’s completed oil painting 'Niagara Falls, from the American Side' (1867), an impressive canvas of over two metres square on loan from the National Galleries of Scotland, is included in the exhibition to illustrate the journey from sketch to completed oil painting. The exhibition will actually travel in summer 2013 to the Scottish National Gallery.

The exhibition follows the 2011 exhibition, An American Experiment: George Bellows and the Ashcan Painters. It complements the impressive Gere Collection of landscape oil sketches on long-term loan to the Gallery and oil sketches in the Gallery’s own collection.

'Through American Eyes: Frederic Church and the Landscape Oil Sketch' is co-curated by Christopher Riopelle, Curator of Post-1800 Paintings at the National Gallery and Katherine Bourguignon, Associate Curator at the Terra Foundation for American Art.

The exhibition travels to The Scottish National Gallery from 11 May to 8 September 2013. The exhibition is organised by The National Gallery in partnership with, and through major support from, the Terra Foundation for American Art. Additional support comes from The Olana Partnership and generous loans from Olana and Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution.