By the mid 1800s, Frederic Church had become a prominent American landscape painter, and was the youngest artist ever elected to the prestigious National Academy of Design. Here we see Church moving away from the mostly calm, pastoral mood of many early works and trying to prove himself capable of portraying nature at her grandest and most awe-inspiring. The sky is brooding and unsettled, with mottled oranges and reds against the gray undertones of the clouds. The sun has just slipped out of view, and soon darkness will fall. Church combines the settled (the house in the distance) with the wild, with emphasis shifting toward the wilderness. It also displays Church's growing technical virtuosity, which even the great English critic John Ruskin praised, writing, "He can draw clouds as few men can."� Church painted this for his friend, the sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer, one of the most important artists and cultural figures in Albany history.