Frederic Church

A Painter’s Pilgrimage

June 2–August 26, 2018

paintings by Frederic Edwin Church

From ancient ruins to awe-inspiring landscapes, experience the world’s beauty through the eyes of 19th-century painter, Frederic Church.

Frederic Church: A Painter’s Pilgrimage is the first exhibition to bring together Church’s highly detailed compositions of sacred terrain in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. A leading painter of 19th-century America and the Hudson River School, Frederic Church (1826–1900) was born in Hartford, Connecticut and had deep ties to the Wadsworth Atheneum, which maintains significant holdings of his early landscapes. The museum’s founder, Daniel Wadsworth, arranged for Church’s apprenticeship with painter Thomas Cole, the father of the Hudson River School.

From the mid-1850s until the early 1870s, Church was the most popular, most written about, and the most financially successful painter in the United States. A specialist in landscape, he traveled to remote places to sketch majestic scenes unfamiliar to his American audience that he could turn into dramatic, large-scale paintings. Frederic Church: A Painter’s Pilgrimage explores an artist’s journey to the other side of the world—not only to paint historical and biblical sites, but to also discover his faith and broaden his worldview.

The exhibition is organized by Kenneth J. Myers, curator of American art at the Detroit Institute of Arts and will be accompanied by a major catalogue.

Click here to visit the multimedia Mobile Tour for this exhibition.

Public Programs

June 5 | Conflict and Cultural Heritage in the Middle East
June 7 | Art After Dark: Rock the Kasbah
June 12 | Sacred Geographies: Frederic Church, the Holy Land, & the Hudson Valley
June 14 | Gallery Talk with curator Erin Monroe
June 20 | Art in Focus
July 8 | Film: Art House
July 11 | Happy Hour & Talk: Irreverence Abroad
July 13 | Under the Stars Film Series: Roman Holiday
July 14 | Second Saturdays for Families: Take a Journey
July 18 | Art in Focus
July 18 & 20 | Sketch Class: Summer Drawing
July 20 | Under the Stars Film Series: Never on Sunday
July 25 | World Music Concert: East of the River
July 27 | Under the Stars Film Series: Sirocco
August 9 | Gallery Talk with art historian Alan Wallach
August 10 | Under the Stars Film Series: Lawrence of Arabia (Part 1)
August 11 | Under the Stars Film Series: Lawrence of Arabia (Part 2)

Exhibition Tours

June 9–August 26
Saturdays & Sundays at 2:30pm

Special exhibition tours are free with museum admission; meet by the Museum Shop.


Exhibition Venues
Detroit Institute of Arts, October 22, 2017–January 14, 2018
Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, NC, February 8, 2018–May 13, 2018
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, June 2, 2018–August 26, 2018

Exhibition Support
This exhibition has been organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Generous support for the exhibition has been provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Henry Luce Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. A significant loan of objects has been provided by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Major support provided by Mrs. John M. Gibbons Jr. and The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

Generous support provided by Duff Ashmead & Eric Ort, The Cheryl Chase and Stuart Bear Family Foundation, and Sharon & Henry Martin.

Program support provided in part by the Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

Sustaining support for the Wadsworth Atheneum provided by Newman’s Own Foundation and the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign.


Images (left to right): Frederic Edwin Church, Syria by the Sea, 1873, oil on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts; Frederic Edwin Church, Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, 1870, oil on canvas. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Gift of the Enid and Crosby Kemper Foundation, F77-40/1.