LEARN: The Collections
Visitors touring beautiful Olana will see the paintings, sculpture and furnishings Frederic and Isabel Church acquired over the course of their lives, which surrounded them and their children, servants and guests in their daily life at Olana. The collection was described by a 19th century guest as, "a museum of fine arts rich in bronzes, paintings, sculptures and antique and artistic specimens from all over the world."
Today's visitor experience is remarkably unchanged, with the public encountering interiors that look as they did in the 1890s-- the virtually intact home of one of America's most important painters. The sheer richness and depth of the collections speak to Church's life-long interest in acquiring intriguing objects from around the world.The whole is an exemplary example of an early Aesthetic Movement interior.
Highlights of the collection include paintings by Frederic Church and fellow Hudson River School artists Martin Johnson Heade and Arthur Parton, and numerous works by his close friend sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer.
The eclectic assortment of furniture and art collected on his many travels abroad and purchased from the growing number of purveyors in New York City include, Middle Eastern carpets,
metalwork, ceramics and costumes; old master paintings; Mexican and colonial folk art; pre-Columbian art; and 19th century American and Oriental furniture.
December Object of The Month: The After Glow
Frederic Edwin Church, The After Glow, oil on canvas, November 1867, 31 1/4 x 48 3/4 in., OL.1981.48, Collection Olana State Historic Site
The After Glow is one of five works Olana has loaned to the exhibition "In the Temple of the Self: The Artist's Residence as a Total Work of Art," presented by the Museum Villa Stuck, Munich currently on view through March 2, 2014. Olana is one of twenty artist's homes highlighted in the exhibition and one of only three representing the United States. The artist's homes were chosen as the supreme examples of the ideas, styles and eras they represent from 1800-1948; and because the residences rank among their creators' most important works. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition with an essay on Frederic Church and Olana written by Evelyn Trebilcock, Olana Curator.
The After Glow was inspired by a glorious sunset marked by striking beams of light, which Church witnessed in Jamaica in July 1865. The artist fixed down the spectacular sky effect in several pencil and oil sketches, which he later used as reference to compose the larger painting. Executed in the studio at Olana, the painting, with the setting sun barely illuminating the ruined building, might be a memorial to Frederic's sister Charlotte who died early in 1867. The work was purchased by the artist's parents for their Hartford home, supporting the commemorative theory. In the late 1880s, Church inherited the painting and hung it at Olana, where visitors remarked on its impact: "Turning my head I was caught by a mass of color-It was the lamp in a window burning just in front of one of Church's pictures. A sunset he had painted from nature on the Island of Jamaica."
For more information on the exhibition at Villa Stuck and the other artists included in the show please click here.