Frederick Edwin Church studied landscape painting under Thomas Cole, a member of the Hudson River School. Church's unique approach to landscape painting aimed to give the viewer a window onto the beauty of the Americas. He combined precise botanical and geological observation with romanticism, drawing insight and direction from the scientist Alexander von Humboldt. Church wrote in a letter to Erasmus Palmer that Humboldt was able to "share the pleasure which a sensitive and contemplative spirit experiences in the presence of the creationΓÇª to make him feel more vividly the harmony of the physical forces." (Letter to Erasmus Palmer, July 7, 1869).
The scene was probably taken from Ecuador or Colombia and would appear to refer to Church's trip to South America in 1857, two years before the date of this drawing (he also traveled there in 1853). It was formerly housed in one of William T. Walters' drawings albums.