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Frederic Edwin Church

Twilight: Mount Desert Island, Maine

1865

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Frederic Edwin Church, a student of Thomas Cole and a leading member of the Hudson River school, painted grand, expansive pictures with precise topographical detail that emphasized the majestic power of the natural world. The glowing red sky of Twilight: Mount Desert Island, Maine suggests the natural drama present in such a quotidian occurrence as the setting of the sun. Framed by the sweep of a rocky coastline and coniferous trees, the passing light of the early evening sky conveys a mood of finality and even exhaustion, which resonated with events of the time on both national and personal levels for the artist. In 1865 the Civil War was finally drawing to its close, leaving Americans with deep wounds of physical and psychic trauma, and Church experienced devastating loss with the deaths of both a son and a daughter from diphtheria in March of that year. The panorama of the landscape suggests a sublime encounter with the mountainous scene, leading viewers to consider broader implications such as the sense of an ending in nature and the close of an era in the life of the American nation. The deer near the stream on the right offers a symbolic counterbalance to the overall theme of the picture, indicating a renewal of life even as daylight fades. [Permanent collection label, 2017]

  • Artist Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900)
  • Title Twilight: Mount Desert Island, Maine
  • Date 1865
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions unframed | 31 5/16 x 48 7/16 in.
  • Credit line Bequest of Charles Parsons, 1905
  • Object number WU 2175
  • Currently on View Gertrude Bernoudy Gallery, Room 1

Real / Radical / Psychological: The Collection on Display
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/09/2016 - 01/15/2017

Inside the Palace of Fine Arts: Cosmopolitanism at the 1904 World’s Fair
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 05/09/2014 - 08/03/2014

American Places: Painting the Landscape in the Nineteenth Century
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/20/2013 - 01/06/2014

America! Storie di Pittura dal Nuovo Mondo
Museo di Santa Giulia (Brescia, Italy), 11/24/2007 - 05/04/2008

Travel and Tourism in American Culture
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/01/2005 - 10/21/2005

Collecting Patterns
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/05/2003 - 12/07/2003

In Search of the Promised Land: Paintings by Frederic Edwin Church
In Search of the Promised Land: Paintings by Frederic Edwin Church, Organized by Berry-Hill Galleries, Inc. (New York, New York), Portland Museum of Art (Portland, Maine), 01/18/2001 - 03/18/2001

Rave Reviews: American Art and Its Critics, 1826–1925
National Academy of Design (New York, New York), 09/20/2000 - 12/31/2000
Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art (Tulsa, Oklahoma), 01/31/2001 - 04/01/2001
Indianapolis Museum of Art (Indianapolis, Indiana), 04/29/2001 - 06/24/2001

Beginnings: The Taste of the Founders
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/21/2000 - 03/19/2000

American Painting of the 19th Century
Österreichische Galerie Belvedere (Vienna, Austria), 03/17/1999 - 06/20/1999

Nineteenth Century Art from the Collection
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/19/1986 - 04/01/1986

The Beautiful, The Sublime, and The Picturesque: British Influences on American Landscape Painting
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 02/18/1984 - 04/08/1984

Parsons Collection
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 05/15/1983 - 08/21/1983

The Way We See It: America by Americans 1850–1980
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 10/10/1982 - 11/07/1982

The Centennial Exhibition
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 05/15/1981 - 10/11/1981

Nineteenth Century American Painting
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 11/16/1979 - 01/06/1980

Summer Selections
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 05/24/1979 - 08/31/1979

Charles Parsons: Portrait of a St. Louis Collector
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 12/12/1976 - 01/30/1977

First Annual Exhibition
St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall (St. Louis, Missouri)

Charles Parsons, St. Louis

Inscription [LC of canvas in black paint in script:] FC [in brown-red paint:] 65

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