the middle right of Rocky
Forest Pool 1857 is the naturally fallen
tree with its clear Cross of intersecting branches
- which he was to use again in, Twilight
in the Wilderness 1860
Here it is pointing in to the Light on the Water
and beyond to the fading somewhat ghostly Main Oak
on the other side. It is a strange place - so near to the
brook - for a large leaning dark oak partly in silhouette.
Is it beginning to fall and a reminder of the Charter Oak
('the aged tree was toppled by a windstorm on August 21st
1856') yet with its roots still in the River of Life? Christ's
Charter is of course, The New Testament and
the Charter Oak was the famous hiding place for Hooker's Charter
which was the important civil, legal and religious declaration
or Testament, for Connecticut.
Once again Church depicts 'the instructive events of our history
especially those of moral grandeur and heroism.'
Hartford City gave the Charter Oak a public funeral 'worthy
of the fallen hero' and afterwards, Church who was most upset
at its demise avidly collected fragments of the dead tree,
like the holy relics of a patron Saint ('I went to Hartford
and secured portions of the wood'). Today, at Church's home
'Olana' there are two partial cross sections one of a branch
and the other of a root and a letter opener all inscribed,
He also referred to the symbolism of Oak and Elm, in his (similar
sized) painting of The
Charter Oak 1847 (& also The
Charter Oak at Hartford 1846-47). Church had shown
the historical origins of Hartford, with a young vigorous
but smaller elm growing next to the oak, that represented
the future for his home town.
The Oak was linked symbolically as well with the Old World
(and England in particular) because of its associations with
history but the elm, was specifically associated with the
New World. In Mount
Ktaadn 1853 the prominent pairing of an oak and
an elm should be seen as symbolic because, neither oak nor
elm grew in the Katahdin region.