Lot 52
  • 52

Frederic Edwin Church 1826 - 1900

600,000 - 800,000 USD
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  • Frederic Edwin Church
  • View in New England
  • signed F.E. Church (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 17 1/4 by 25 1/4 inches
  • (42.8 by 64.1 cm)
  • Painted circa 1853-54.


Samuel P. Avery, New York
Robert Hoe, New York, 1869 (acquired from the above)
Arthur Hoe (his grandson)
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 1968 (acquired from the above)
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1968


New York, Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Twenty-five American Masterpieces, April-May 1968, no. 11, illustrated
Stockholm, Sweden, National Museum; Gothenburg, Sweden, Goteborgs Konstmuseum, A New World: American Landscape Painting, 1893-1900, September 1986-February 1987, no. 19


Catalogue of Robert Hoe’s Pictures, New York, 1875


Please contact the American Art department for this condition report: (212) 606 7280 or americanart@sothebys.com
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Frederic Edwin Church painted View in New England circa 1853-54, by which time he had established himself among the leading American landscape painters of the nineteenth century. Trained under Thomas Cole, the father of the Hudson River School, Church developed an exacting style of execution that he used to translate the splendor he observed in nature onto canvas. His strikingly detailed, romantic compositions celebrate the beauty inherent to the landscape he encountered throughout North and South America.

The 1850s instigated important changes in Church’s aesthetic and understanding of his own art. Unlike his earlier landscapes, which predominantly represent views of a single, specific location, in works like View in New England Church synthesizes components of different places he visited during his travels. This shift was encouraged in part by his engagement with the writings of the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. Humboldt’s ideas—specifically his celebration of “heroic landscape painting”—not only inspired Church to expand his compositions to encompass larger parts of the world, but also persuaded him to make his first pivotal trip to South America in 1853.

By assembling details from diverse and distant areas into a single landscape, Church now sought to present the essence of the environment rather than the specific geographical character of a particular place. In View in New England, Church depicts a lone figure fishing in a tranquil river surrounded by lush, rolling hills and serene mountains. He likely composed the scene using elements of the landscape he recorded in Vermont and Maine, the latter of which he visited for the first time in 1850 and became a significant source of inspiration. Suffused with a luminous golden light, the scene emanates serene, idyllic beauty, evoking Church’s experience and impression of the region as a whole.

Works such as View in New England demonstrate Church beginning to use landscape as a means to communicate complex ideas and emotions. Though Cole was celebrated for his explicitly allegorical landscapes, Church took a more restrained approach than his teacher. In View in New England, Church presents a bucolic, idealized view of the Northeast United States. His inclusion of subtle signs of peaceful human presence suggests a sense of harmony between man and nature. As Franklin Kelly explains, “the forms of nature—trees, underbrush, the lake, the hills, and mountains—surround man and his creations, but do not threaten them. [Works like View in New England] are manifestly…image[s] celebrating an equilibrium between nature and civilization: no sawn tree stumps mar the foreground, no sawdust from the mill or runoff from the fields pollutes the water, and no smoke from a forge or railroad engine fouls the air. …[They] present a world that might still have existed [at this time], but that was destined to change with astounding speed over the next decade” (Frederic Edwin Church and the National Landscape, Washington, D.C., 1988, p. 55). Church continued to experiment with these ideas on a progressively grander scale, executing his masterpiece, Heart of the Andes (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) by the end of the decade.