CHURCH, Frederic Edwin
(b. 1826, Hartford, d. 1900, New York)

The Heart of the Andes

1859
Oil on canvas, 169 x 303 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Frederic Church was Thomas Cole's star pupil, and as Cole was the major figure in the first generation of the Hudson River School, so Church dominated the second. He did not confine himself to views of New York and New England; in the 1850s, influenced by the great explorer Alexander von Humboldt, he traveled to South America and made sketches that were the basis of a great Andean panorama. Church painted nature with uncanny fidelity and an abiding sense of awe. His landscapes embodied America's belief that the opening of frontiers and territorial expansion were the nation's destiny. When this monumental painting was first shown to the public in 1859, in a darkened room and illuminated by hidden lights, it caused a sensation. In many ways, the painting carried the ideas of the Hudson River School to their most dramatic culmination.