In his New York studio, Church painted this spectacular view of a blazing sunset over wilderness near Mount Katahdin in Maine, which he had sketched during a visit nearly two years earlier. Although Church often extolled the grandeur of American landscape in his work, this painting appears to have additional overtones. Created on the eve of the Civil War, the painting's subject can be interpreted as symbolically evoking the coming conflagration. Church's considerable technical skills and clever showmanship contributed to his fame as the premier artist of his generation. Rather than debut this painting in an annual exhibition with works by other artists as was the custom, Church instead exhibited it by itself at a prestigious art gallery. Coaxed by advance publicity and highly favorable press reviews, several hundred spectators flocked to admire it during its seven-week run.

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  • Title: Twilight in the Wilderness
  • Creator: Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900)
  • Date Created: 1860
  • Physical Dimensions: Framed: 124 x 185 x 13 cm (48 13/16 x 72 13/16 x 5 1/8 in.); Unframed: 101.6 x 162.6 cm (40 x 64 in.)
  • Provenance: William T. Walters [1820-1894], Baltimore, MD, consigned to Samuel Putnam Avery for sale at Henry H. Leeds and Co., (Henry H. Leeds and Co., New York, NY, Feb. 12-13, 1864), (Samuel Putnam Avery [1822-1904], New York, NY), (Leeds and Minor at Old Dusseldorf Gallery, New York, NY, March 9, 1866, no. 174, sold to John Taylor Johnston), John Taylor Johnston [1820-1893], New York, NY, (Chickering Hall, John Taylor Johnston sale, Dec. 19-22, 1876, sold to John Work Garrett?), John Work Garrett [1820-1884], Baltimore, MD, by descent to his daughter, Mary E. Garrett?, Mary E. Garrett [1854-1909], Baltimore, MD, sold to Robert de Forest, Robert de Forest [1848-1931], Parkers Point, CT, by descent to his brother, Lockwood de Forest, Lockwood de Forest [1850-1932], Santa Barbara, CA, by descent to his son, Alfred Victor de Forest, Alfred Victor de Forest [1888-1945], Marlborough, NH, by descent to his son, Taber de Forest, Taber de Forest, Maine, sold to David McCoy, David McCoy, Lyme, CT, sold to Robert Weimann, Robert Weimann, Ansonia, CT, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: CC0
  • External Link: https://clevelandart.org/art/1965.233
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Inscriptions: Signed and dated lower right: "F. E. CHURCH / -60-"
  • Fun Fact: An image of this painting has a cameo in the Harrison Ford film <em>Clear and Present Danger</em>.
  • Department: American Painting and Sculpture
  • Culture: America, 19th century
  • Credit Line: Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund
  • Collection: American - Painting
  • Accession Number: 1965.233

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