The name “Frederic Edwin Church” immediately brings to mind iconic images of the American landscape: sublime vistas depicting the White Mountains, the Catskills and the Adirondacks, tranquil paintings of regions throughout New England, and dramatic scenes of the American wilderness. Church is recognized as an important 19th-century landscape painter and leading member of the Hudson River School; his reputation can be accredited to his natural ability and additionally to Thomas Cole, whose instruction profoundly influenced Church’s artistic approach. Areas of treacherous terrain were no match for Church’s adventurous spirit; he understood that vantage points presenting the most beautiful panoramas were often shielded from view, protected behind the untamed elements of nature. Church recognized that only the bravest of artists were willing to venture forth into the wilderness to capture these rare scenes on canvas, and he willingly submitted himself to the mercy of Mother Nature—all in the name of artistic inspiration.
Church traveled far and wide on his quest for the perfect perspective offering the ideal view, producing preparatory oil sketches along the way that became studies for many of his final paintings. A selection of these oil sketches are currently on view in an exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery, Through American Eyes: Frederic Church and the Landscape Oil Sketch. This show will run through September 8, 2013; European audiences will be treated to twenty-five works by Frederic E. Church that demonstrate his flair for integrating impressive light effects into breathtaking landscape paintings. The star of the show is a painting that was donated to the Scottish National Gallery in 1887, Niagara Falls from the American Side; this work is the culmination of the show and gives European visitors an opportunity to see an American “Natural Wonder” portrayed in all of its glory. The exhibition not only highlights the tremendous ability of Hudson River School artist Frederic E. Church, but also reflects a continuing European interest in American art, evidenced in the increasing amount of 19th- and 20th-century American art exhibitions occurring abroad.