Frederic Edwin Church, Winter Twilight from Olana, 1871
Source: Wikimedia Commons
in National Academy Museum is currently hosting the touring exhibition ‘Treasures from Olana: Landscapes by Frederic Edwin Church’. Olana is the Persian style home Church built overlooking the New York (see the Olana website). Chuch made sure that after his death in 1900 the house and its contents would remain together. Hudson
In his review of the exhibition in the
Review of Books, John Updike points out the irony that this crowded oriental fantasy house crammed with Victorian bric-a-brac should also house Church’s freshest works: rapid oil sketches that the artist kept and framed. The Hudson Valley in Winter from Olana (c 1871-2, 13 x 20 ¼ inches) for example is praised by Updike for the “dashing dabble of rapid brown strokes that does for winter foliage”, “the boldly crude splatter of white clouds scattered on the blue sky overhead” and snow “more creamy, and drifts more sweepingly indicated” than can be found in the landscapes of almost any other American painters. New York
It is of course a familiar story - the oil sketches of a celebrated artist appealing more to modern tastes than the large scale finished works. It will be interesting to see how this theme is addressed in the forthcoming Constable show at Tate
. Another British parallel to Church is Lord Leighton, whose vivid oil sketches are often much more appealing than the paintings that brought him fame and the presidency of the Britain . Like Church, Leighton was fascinated by the Royal Academy Near East and created for himself an idealised oriental space in Leighton House (this interior photograph dates from about 1879). It too is open to the public and is, I am told, an excellent party venue.