Click here to close window

He consciously adjusted his paint handling from picture to picture

and from one chronological period to another
Dr. Gerald L. Carr.

Modus Operandi or Working Method

Thomas Cole - like Alexander Von Humboldt - taught Church, along these lines: 'The most lovely and perfect parts of nature may be brought together and combined in a whole that shall surpass in beauty and effect any picture painted from a single view….he who would paint compositions and not be false must sit down amidst his sketches, make selections and combine them and so have nature for every object he paints'

As with most of his Studio paintings, Church worked out the rough composition, colour and detail in his many pencil sketches and oil studies in the field, which he would execute, impromptu, on his travels. He would then often change details in his final work but these idealised studio landscapes should generally be enjoyed more for their beauty and accuracy in painting nature and natural phenomena than for the accuracy of an actual scene. As with Rocky Forest Pool '57 they often have deeper spiritual resonance for those who choose to learn 'the lessons' from deciphering them. The Natural Bridge, Virginia 1852 and Niagara 1857 depict real places but most of his landscape paintings were only loosely based on his many pencil and oil sketches.

Find the spot where he painted, In the New England Woods 1855-1865, and we believe that you will have found the location of Rocky Forest Pool '57. With all the other evidence - that would place it within a 40 x 10 mile region (running North/South) of the Green Mountain Forest in Vermont, Northern New England and starting from Cuttingsville and Clarendon in the middle

Like a diary, Church referred to these sketches and notes continually. There are only 8 years between Freeman Brook (?) near Cuttingsville, Vt. August 1849 and Rocky Forest Pool '57, yet they share the same scene and at least 8 similar features

'Relying solely on his own pencil drawing of October 1856' Church painted Niagara from the American Side in 1867 - 11 years earlier. Prof Tim Barringer, Yale.

Church was not always that good an artist. Even Picasso admitted, 'I sometimes paint a fake Picasso' when he was unhappy with his work. With, Tequandama Falls '54, he was advised, that 'he should not paint falling water - 'for he cannot' by the "Editor's Table," The Knickerbocker 45, May1855, p.532. They also considered The Wreck 1852 'much inferior ' to, Home by the Lake 1852.

Church learnt prolifically and fast. Just look at the progress that he made in one year between 1854 when he painted the unconvincing waterfall in Tequandama Falls and 1855, when he painted, The Andes of Ecuador. Then look at the water now 'perfectly represented' in Rocky Forest Pool '57 and Niagara 1857.

'When he wished to, he could cover large areas of canvas speedily.' Morning in the Tropics 1858, Oosisoak 1861 and Under Niagara 1862, he painted, 'each within a day's time or less. Further, he consciously adjusted his paint handling from picture to picture and from one chronological period to another' Dr. Gerald L. Carr. Church even claimed in a letter to Erastus Dow Palmer, Sept 1888 that the mighty Niagara 1857 had been completed in two months.

With, Rocky Forest Pool '57, Church is at his peak where - 'he appeals to our love of the wild and free, where he leads us to a glade in the wilderness, where we see no sound that reminds us of civilisation or humanity' and where we can find our peace with God.