Forest Pool 1857, the American Elm 'the noblest
arch beneath the sky' with its 'sacred roof of green' (Henry
Ward Beecher) is emerging and has now discretely taken over
the left foreground of the painting.
vision of Paradise Regained takes shape for the first
time without the presence of Man. The Way ahead
is 'a new babtism', a reaffirmation of Faith.
'The Lesson' therefore is to follow the Way of Christ
and The Light on the Water. The river leads towards
three trees in the luminous evanescent distance representing
the Trinity and the very presence of the Omnipresent God of
Creation within His perfect and sublime wilderness
(which is God's Gift -Theodoros- inscribed in Greek on
The Creation and Art of God.
Forest Pool 1857 predates The
Evening Star 1858
and like this small sketch, is important because for the very
first time in his paintings of the 50's it portrays a pure
untouched wilderness without a trace of Man, his works or
his animals. It represents the first step with Niagara
1857 (after Sunset
1856 - with its sheep & Twilight
1856-58 - with its trapper's hut) where all references
to man are excluded. The
Evening Star 1858 follows a year later with Twilight
in the Wilderness in 1860. Twilight
in the Wilderness 1860 however, has a different
message of foreboding to do with the fears, political uncertainties
and turmoil of the impending Civil War.
Rocky Forest Pool 1857 Church has no need as yet to
hint at the struggle ahead and it may thus be seen as an inspired,
more lyrical and technically more proficient answer to Durand's
much acclaimed In
the Woods 1855.
He would have been aware also of Durand's 'Letters on Landscape
Painting' published in The Crayon that year which invoked
'go not abroad then, in search of the exercise of your pencil,
while the virgin charms of our native land have claims upon
your deepest affections.' Church certainly endorsed this recommendation
when in the summer of 1856 he went on a trip into New England
and Maine with Theodore Winthrop who recalled 'we both
need to be at the heart of New England's wildest wilderness.'
It was 'a new life' - 'there, perhaps up in the strong wilderness,
we might be recreated to a more sensitive vitality.' It showed
them new ways of seeing and feeling through another 'Baptism.'
the first time in his Art, Church was confirming his complete
Faith in the spiritually regenerative and benevolent influences
of pristine nature. Interestingly, a page from Milton's
Paradise Regained and a print of Christ's
Baptism is glued to the old stretcher
with the inscription
(meaning God's Gift) or Theodore in English.
Forest Pool 1857 is part
of the creative and spiritual bounty from that trip. Paying
particular attention to the luminous evanescent atmosphere
and Light on the Water, here is a perfect Humboldtian
painting of a sublime North American 'sylvan Scene', painted
with Ruskinian precision and with all the technical genius
that Church had by then learnt from Turner and through
his own diligent enquiry and practice.
Forest Pool 1857 technically pre-empts and prepares
us for his epic paintings.
of the Andes 1859, Church employs similar
techniques to convey his 'grand pictorial poem' through mountains
and woodlands, plants and river.
1861 he conjures the three basic elements of the
Arctic - ice, water and sky in order to express a desolate
in the Wilderness 1860 and Rocky
Forest Pool 1857 Church uses, water, trees and
particularly the setting sky in Twilight
and on the luminous evanescent light
Forest Pool 1857 - to define the elemental character
of the North American Landscape and to impart his 'Lessons'
through his Art.