View of Cotopaxi

Ecuadorian landscape with people, palm trees, waterfall, and volcano in background
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Ecuadorian landscape with people, palm trees, waterfall, and volcano in background




Frederic Edwin Church
American, 1826–1900

About this artwork

One of the leading American landscape painters in the mid-nineteenth century, Frederic Edwin Church approached his subject matter as both an artist and a scientist. Inspired by the writings of the German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, Church visited the mountainous terrain of South America twice, in 1853 and 1857. In this untamed “New World”—and particularly in what was then the highest active volcano in the world, the mighty Ecuadorian Cotopaxi—Church saw the perfect symbol of primeval nature and the spiritual renewal it could bring to civilization. This view of the smoldering cone of Cotopaxi was completed after Church’s first trip to South America. A dazzling compendium of minutely rendered wildlife, vegetation, and terrain, the scene illustrates the fascinating contrasts indigenous to this locale: from the calm water to the explosive cascades and from the lush, green foliage to the frozen, barren peak. The elevated vantage point, which makes the viewer feel suspended in midair, heightens these evocative juxtapositions. One of at least ten finished canvases featuring the Andean volcano that Church executed over the course of almost two decades, this painting represents an intermediate vision between his more naturalistic early pieces and the dramatic, transcendental works of his later years.

On View

American Art, Gallery 171


Frederic Edwin Church


View of Cotopaxi


United States




Oil on canvas


Signed, lower right: "F. E. Church '57"


62.2 × 92.7 cm (24 1/2 × 36 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Jennette Hamlin in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Dana Webster

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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