The Andes of Ecuador: Science and Spectacle

West Bedroom Gallery

The Museum reinstalled Frederic Church’s The Andes of Ecuador, the largest and most ambitious painting of the artist’s early career. Profoundly influenced by the journeys of Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Darwin to South America, Church traveled to Ecuador in search of new material. The success of The Andes of Ecuador encouraged Church’s scientific approach to landscape painting and enabled him to adopt a theatrical new exhibition strategy—to display his major canvases alone, swathed in velvet curtains, and dramatically lit for an admission fee. In September, the museum will recreate the way these so-called “Great Pictures” were presented to the public. Such contextualization will allow visitors to investigate the intersections between art, science, and spectacle in Church’s work while specifically considering the impact of Darwin as the museum celebrates the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.