Last week we made our way up to Vermont so Ken could take baking classes at King Arthur Flour. We've stopped in the Catskill region of New York through the years when going up to New England. Last year we visited the painter Thomas Cole's house in Catskill, NY. I did a post about it here. It was there that we discovered Frederic Church's house was nearby, but unfortunately we had a tight schedule to keep and could not see it then. So this year we planned a visit and found the Bavarian Manor Inn not too far away. Whenever possible we choose old Inns like this one, started in 1865. They often are in need of some renovating (especially the bathrooms) but that does not bother me when I can get loads of charm. . . .
Our room was the second-floor corner room in front--the window at the top right in the first photo. The last photo is taken from the balcony above the side porch. . . .
Our room had a fishing theme. . . .
Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed that evening, but we were able to enjoy the quaint dining room the next morning. We requested an early breakfast so we had the dining room to ourselves. The room was a museum of sorts filled with Bavarian crockery and cuckoo clocks. The painted panels were on the screen door to the side porch. . . .
After breakfast we were off to Olana, the home of the best known American Hudson River School painter, Frederic Church (1826-1900). He was a generation younger than Thomas Cole and a student of Cole's. Church came from a wealthy family which allowed him the freedom to pursue his love of painting at a young age. He also traveled extensively throughout South America and the Middle East which are subjects of many of his 202 paintings. It also influenced the design of his home. Click on the photos to enlarge them. . . .
I took this photo for the quote ☺︎. . . .
Church was born in Hartford, Connecticut and came to the Catskills as Thomas Cole's student when he was just 18. On one of his treks into the countryside to paint he discovered the view from the east side of the Hudson River to be spectacular and determined to one day build his house there. . . .
“I have made about 1-3/4 miles of road this season, opening entirely new and beautiful views. I can make more and better landscapes in this way than by tampering with canvas and paint in the studio.”
Before I begin my tour, I hope you will watch this aerial video of the estate so you get the feel of its placement on the site. It also captures the grandeur of the house's size and design.
We walked the last part to get the feel of the "reveal" a visitor would experience. . . .
The design of the house is a combination of several different middle eastern architectural styles. . . .
We were not allowed to take photographs inside the house. There are a few here, however. Each room was painted to reflect the middle-east as did the furniture. The views from the two sides facing the mountains were breathtaking. These were taken from the porch looking west. . . .
The bridge across the Hudson, of course, would not have been there in Church's day. . . .
This view is toward the south over the lake he had dredged from a swampy area. You get a glimpse of the carriage drive winding its way up to the house. . . .
He painted the above view. . . .
|Bee Craft Mountain from Church's Farm|
This was taken from behind the house looking west. . . .
Church traveled to South America in 1853 and 1857. Upon his return he painted "Heart of the Andes". A 5' x 10' painting, he unveiled it in a dramatic way to the public in 1859. . . .
The painting's frame had drawn curtains fitted to it, creating the illusion of a view out a window. The audience sat on benches to view the piece and Church strategically darkened the room, but spotlighted the landscape painting. Church also brought plants from a past trip to South America to heighten the viewers' experience. The public were charged admission and provided with opera glasses to examine the painting's details.
Use the above link for more information on Frederick Church and his work.
More info here.
|Heart of the Andes, 1859|
Click on caption for more information.
He eventually sold it for $10,000--the highest price received for a painting by a living American at that time.
This is one of my favorites of his paintings. . . .
|Autumn in North America c. 1856|
The Google Art Project has 99 of his paintings. What is unique about this site is you can use their close-up feature to see the brush strokes. I highly recommend it for viewing his Niagara Falls paintings. Photographs of paintings never truly capture the intensity and "life" in a painting, but these close-ups are the next best thing.
If you want to hike the areas in which the Hudson River School artists painted this site will show you where the trails are located.
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