Friday, September 26, 2008

God is in the details: Olana

Pamela and I just returned from a 3 day trip up the Hudson River ending in the town of Catskill. While there we visited the 19th century home of Frederick Church, just across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge from Catskill.
Frederick Church was one of the more prominent of the Hudson River School painters. One of his best known works was his 7 x 3 ft painting of Niagara Falls.

When Frederick began to work on the design of Olana after an extended family trip to the Middle East, his naturalistic style of painting was already losing popularity due to the emergence of Impressionism.

Whether motivated by this realization or not, Frederick poured heart and soul into every detail of his home and spent the last 3 decades of his life dedicated to it's creation. It is abundantly clear in the design of Olana how enamored he was with the Persian and Moorish art he had seen on his travels. He designed every internal and external decorative element including the mixing of every color used and worked with architect Calvert Vaux to make it a reality.

I could not take pictures inside the house but here are the best details I was able to capture of the outside. Do, if you can, pay a visit. But for those who can't go in person, I hope my photographs give you a glimpse of the extreme pleasure it is to visit Frederick Church's ultimate masterpiece, Olana.

Also remember to click on pictures to get even more of the details. And you never know, whom you will see since God is rumored to reside there.


Roses and stuff said...

These very decorative paintings would make great edgings... for embroideries, fabrics and wallpapers for example. Very inspirational!

Yolanda said...

Yes, I think as a textile designer, it stirred me quite deeply. It was good for me to see the evidence of someone else so move by color, pattern and texture as to devote so much of themselves. Gardeners I believe share this affinity with visual artists.

Kathleen said...

Thank you for reminding me of the brilliance of Frederick Church. Gorgeous!

Susan aka Miss. R said...

Thanks for sharing the pictures of Olana--I've been meaning to go for a while now and always get sidetracked on my way there. Your pictures make me want to go even more.

MoonPi said...

I grew up just south of Olana, ans seeing it in your blog was like seeing an old friend. I remember being enchanted by the magical stained glass that was one color inside, and another when viewed from outside. Back then, the tower was completely covered in wisteria, and it was intoxicating in bloom - the smell would waft through the valley. Thanks!

MoonPi said...
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