The home of Hudson River School master Frederic Edwin Church will be the focus of an exhibition opening this weekend in upstate New York: All the Raj—Frederic Church and Lockwood de Forest: Painting, Decorating, and Collecting at Olana examines the inspiration behind the design of Church’s estate while exploring the relationship between two important nineteenth-century American artists. De Forest spent time at Olana during the 1870s pursuing his interest in painting, and his luminous scenes of the surrounding landscape are a reflection of Church’s impact on his aesthetic approach. All the Raj features twelve sketches by de Forest, one of which is paired with a near-identical work by Church to illustrate that the two often painted side by side. As one of the few young artists that Church took under his wing, de Forest joined the small but talented rank of Church’s Hudson River School protégés, which also included fellow American landscape painters Jervis McEntee and WalterLaunt Palmer.
The trajectory of de Forest’s career ultimately routed itself towards the decorative arts instead of painting, and All the Raj celebrates his reputation as one of the most imminent tastemakers of the nineteenth century. De Forest’s fascination with Persian decorative arts and architecture evolved into a successful design career that was instrumental in introducing a new, exotic aesthetic to American audiences. The structural and interior design of the Olana reflects Church’s appreciation for Indian design elements—a notion strengthened by his personal collection of Indian brass work, earthenware, armor, and textiles that are also on view in All the Raj. He shared this admiration with de Forest, and together the two transformed their vision of Olana into a reality that still stands today as a magnificent amalgam of art, architecture, and panoramic scenery.