Frederic Edwin Church was born in Brooklyn, NY on October 25, 1876. In May 1848, Church was elected as the youngest Associate of the National Academy of Design and was promoted to Academician the following year. Soon after, he sold his first major work to Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum. Church settled in New York, but in the spring each year Church would travel, often by foot, sketching. He returned each winter to paint and to sell his work.
In 1853 and 1857, Church traveled in South America. Two years after returning to the US, Church painted The Heart of the Andes (1859), now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Church unveiled the painting to an astonished public in New York City 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. The work was an instant success. Church eventually sold it for $10,000, at that time the highest price ever paid for a work by a living American artist.
Frederic Edwin Church showed his paintings at the annual exhibitions of the National Academy of Design, the American Art Union, and at the Boston Art Club, alongside Thomas Cole, Asher Brown Durand, John F. Kensett, and Jasper F. Cropsey. He was also a member of Lyme Art Association, Audubon Artists, Allied American Artists, MacDowell Club and the New York Architectural League. Critics and collectors appreciated the new art of landscape on display, and its progenitors came be to called the Hudson River School.