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Frederic Church's Olana on the Hudson: Art Landscape Architecture

Frederic Edwin Church, a central figure in a group of artists known as the Hudson River School, became internationally renowned as a painter of monumental landscapes. The spectacular panoramas he painted in the 1840s through 1890s helped shape not only the cultural identity of the United States, but also of himself when he applied his vision as an artist to the house and 250-acre landscape that he named Olana, known today as Olana State Historic Site, a National Historic Landmark.  Olana is located just outside of Hudson, New York, in the heart of the beautiful Hudson River Valley. It is the masterwork of his career and stands as the most intact artist-designed environment in the country.

Olana’s designed landscape has been sensitively restored over the last ten years and can now be experienced by visitors very much as Church and his family experienced it in the 19th century, including the breathtaking vistas over the Hudson River Valley region that first drew the artist to this dramatic setting. Frederic Church’s Olana on the Hudson: Art Landscape Architecture , includes nearly fifty paintings and sketches by Church, alongside gorgeous photography by Larry Lederman, which captures the essence of the landscape and house at Olana, inside and out.

Taken especially for this book, the images were shot in all seasons and all weather, and include panoramic and aerial views, sunsets, detail shots of both the house and landscape, as well as interior views of the house.

Engaging essays by Eleanor Jones Harvey, David Schuyler, Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, Thomas L. Woltz, and Stephen Hannock will delve into Church and his inspirations and motivations, illuminating not only the home he built but also his work as an artist.

About the Authors: Julia B. Rosenbaum is a professor of art history at Bard College, specializing in American visual culture. Her publications include Visions of Belonging: New England Art and the Making of American Identity and The American Bourgeoisie: Distinction and Identity in the Nineteenth Century. She currently serves as the consulting director of research and publications at The Olana Partnership.

Karen Zukowski is an independent scholar of American visual culture, with a special interest in artists’ homes and studios. She has been active at Olana for more than 25 years, first as a curator and now as a member of the board of trustees of The Olana Partnership. Ms. Zukowski also serves on the National Advisory Committee for the Historic Artists' Homes and Studios program.

Larry Lederman is a photographer of historical and important building interiors and landscapes. He is the author of Magnificent Trees of The New York Botanical Garden and The Rockefeller Family Gardens: An American Legacy. He was the principal photographer for Interior Landmarks: Treasures of New York and The New York Botanical Garden, which celebrates the garden’s 125th anniversary. His work has been exhibited in a number of important galleries and venues and is found in corporate and private collections.

Eleanor Jones Harvey is senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Her most recent project was the exhibition The Civil War and American Art, which was on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2012–2013. Her current project is about the considerable impact of German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt on American art and culture.

David Schuyler is Arthur and Katherine Shadek Professor of the Humanities and American Studies at Franklin & Marshall College. He is the author, most recently, of Embattled River: The Hudson and Modern American Environmentalism and Sanctified Landscape: Writers, Artists, and the Hudson River Valley, 1820–1909 and a member of Olana’s National Advisory Committee The president of the Foundation for Landscape Studies,

Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, is the founder of the Central Park Conservancy. She is an essayist, publisher of the journal Site/Lines, and author of ten books, including Green Metropolis: The Extraordinary Landscapes of New York City as Nature, History, and Design and Saving Central Park: A History and a Memoir (Knopf, 2018).  She is also a member of Olana’s National Advisory Committee.

Thomas L. Woltz leads the firm Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (NBW) in applying design excellence to the creation and reinvigoration of public space—parks, urban plazas, campuses, and arboreta—and to the restoration of damaged ecological infrastructure within working farmland to create models of biodiversity and sustainable agriculture. Woltz is the lead landscape architect for the award-winning STRATEGIC LANDSCAPE DESIGN PLAN. The work of NBW has been recognized with many national and regional awards and has been published widely. Nelson Byrd Woltz: Garden, Park, Community, Farm (2013) is a monograph of their work.

Stephen Hannock is an American painter known for his atmospheric landscapes––compositions of flooded rivers, nocturnes, and large vistas––that often incorporate text inscriptions relating to family, friends, or events of daily life. He is a member of Olana’s National Advisory Committee.

 

 

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