oil on canvas, 69.2- 102.2 cm. - The Warner Collection
Frederic Edwin Church was the most gifted disciple of Thomas Cole, to whom he dedicated many of his works. Church represents the culmination of the Hudson River School: he had Cole's love for the landscape, Asher Brown Durand's romantic lyricism, and Albert Bierstadt's grandiloquence, but he was braver and technically more gifted than anyone of them. Church is without any doubt one of the greatest landscape painters of all time, perhaps only surpassed by Turner and some impressionists and postimpressionists like Monet or Cézanne. At his maturity, Church's ambition was not fulfilled with the classical American landscape, and he painted exotic masterpieces like “Cotopaxi” , “Heart of the Andes” or the “Above the clouds at sunrise” shown here.
A landscape with no land. Or perhaps an airscape. “Above the clouds at sunrise” is one of the most original and audacious landscapes ever painted. Church has represented the sunrise at the top of a mountain, “above the clouds”, in such a way that all the landscape located beyond a certain distance is replaced by an immense cloud bank. The natural elements located near the observer, in addition to the oneiric pink fog, embraces the horizon view, whereas one of the trees, located exactly in front of the sun, highlights the presence of this one on the painting. Church has not represented a particular landscape, but rather the magical and incredible light of the sunrise.
Text by G. Fernández, www.theartwolf.com