Maine Sublime Exhibit of Frederic Edwin Church Paintings of Katahdin in the 1850s

An exhibit of paintings entitled “Maine Sublime” that feature paintings of Katahdin is in a much discussed display at Olana.

The paintings are by Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church. Per the exhibit description:

The artist first journeyed to Maine in the summer of 1850 spending six weeks on Mount Desert exploring the coast, its rocky Islands, and peaceful harbors. He sketched the scenery which he described as “magnificent both land and seaward,” capturing the splendid sky effects in Sunset Bar Harbor, 1854. In 1852 he trekked inland focusing on the area of Mount Katahdin. Over the next decades Church continued to visit Maine capturing sensational sunsets, robust crashing waves, impressive peaks, and an abundance of wilderness.

Wilmerding’s analysis of the paintings inspired by Maine reveals Church as both a public and private artist. “The work done in Maine during the 1850s and early 1860s, primarily at Mount Desert, embodied sentiments of increasing national strife, in symbolic and suggestive ways, while the career of the later 1860s and 1870s was devoted more to his personal time in inland Maine around Mount Katahdin,” explains Wilmerding. Featured in the exhibition is Twilight, A Sketch, 1858 the study for Church’s great masterpiece Twilight in the Wilderness, 1860 (Cleveland Museum of Art), which reflects the tensions surrounding the impending Civil War. Mount Katahdin from Millinocket Camp, 1895 on loan from the Portland Museum was the artist’s last major Maine canvas and a birthday gift to his wife— a work of great personal significance that both enhances the exhibition and directly relates to the artist’s life at Olana.

Book on the exhibit
New York Time article
NPR Profile (with audio)
Google Images of Church Katahdin Paintings

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