Saturday, November 9, 2013

Olana State Historic Site

We headed back toward Hudson and found the correct turnoff for Olana, the home of the famous landscape artist Frederic Church.  Church was one of the more well known artists of the Hudson Valley School, a group of painters who were friends with one another and worked in the same style between the 1830's and 1870's.

According to the website, "Paintings of the Hudson River School are characterized by fidelity to nature; clarity of detail; skies sometimes glowing at sunrise or sunset, sometimes shining a sunny, clear blue; nearly invisible brushstrokes; an overall feeling of tranquility; and a presentation of the American landscape as a new Eden in a benevolent universe, blessed by God and providing an uplifting moral influence."

Frederic and Isabel Church were well traveled and envisioned a home that had elements of design they'd seen in Beirut, Jerusalem and Damascus.  The Persian style home encompasses many of the ideas they loved from their trips to the Middle East.

 It is said that Church searched for three years to find the perfect property upon which to build his home.  The website goes on, "Like his painted landscapes,  the physical landscape at Olana is composed of foreground (the house environs), middle ground (the rolling fields and forest), and background (the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains). As in his paintings, the foreground at Olana was a much more detailed landscape, where canopy, understory, and ground plane were created with richly layered plantings of choice native species. Spatially, these plantings – along with natural landforms, the very windows on his house, and the careful layout of miles of carriage drives – were used by Church to reveal exactingly framed vistas of his own property and the wider Hudson River Valley."

 These truly were the most spectacular views we experienced on our trip!  Look at those colors!

 Interesting bench and fence on the property
 Imagine living here and looking out on these sights every day. 

Church died in 1900.  The home remained in the family till 1966, when the Olana Preservation organization and the State of NY combined forces to fight a great-nephew who'd inherited the property with plans to sell all of the original furnishings through Sotheby's.  Apparently, down to the wire, the organization finally raised enough money to purchase the home and everything in it. Thankfully.

You can read much more  about Church and Olana at There's even a virtual tour of some of the rooms in the house. 

1 comment:

Suzassippi said...

Wow, that was incredible. I can only imagine how gorgeous it must have been in reality! I predict some new cards and photos in your next art show!