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Village People: Frederic Church

frederic church tasha
Frederic Church was a central figure of the Hudson River School, and kept a studio at the 10th Street Studio Building.

(This post is part of a series called Village People: A Who’s Who of Greenwich Village, which will explore some of this intern’s favorite Village people and stories.)

Frederic Church, born in Hartford, CT in 1826, became a central figure of the Hudson River School, and a great American landscape painter. He studied under Thomas Cole (the founder of the Hudson River School) from the age of eighteen, adopting his technique of creating paintings in his studio during the winter, based on sketches made on site during the summer. He later built his home, Olana, across the river from Cole’s Cedar Grove in Catskill.

However, he also took a studio at 51 West 10th Street, the Tenth Street Studio Building. Built in 1857, this was the first modern building designed solely to provide studio space for artists. Winslow Homer, Edward Lamson Henry, Lockwood de Forest, and Albert Bierstadt were among its first residents, along with Church. (The building that now stands at this address is not the same one: the original was razed to make way for the current apartment building in 1956.) Here, he created iconic images of the Hudson River and Hudson River Valley, which now reside in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art, etc.

'Niagra Falls, from the American Side' (1867)
‘Niagra Falls, from the American Side’ (1867)

Church also travelled to South America twice in 1853 and 1857, producing landscapes in Ecuador. Upon returning, he exhibited ‘Heart of the Andes,’ a 10-foot panoramic landscape, at the Tenth Street Studio’s communal gallery. In 1867, he and his family travelled to Europe and the Middle East, including areas in modern Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. He also produced large paintings during this trip. However, by 1876, he had developed rheumatoid arthritis, which greatly limited his ability to work. He continued nonetheless, with his left hand and at a much slower pace, until his death in 1900.

Sources for this post can be found here and here.

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