“Olana is the monument of Emerson’s, Thoreau’s, and Whitman’s America.” - David Huntington, the visionary art historian who led the charge to save Olana from destruction in the 1960s
This May 4th marked the 194th birthday of Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), America's seminal landscape painter of the 19th century, and to celebrate the occasion, we've all been given the spectacular views from his beloved home, Olana, in real-time with a skycam.
Olana State Historic Site toasted Church with a Zoom video call on Monday night featuring staff and directors showcasing their favorite vistas, architecture, garden and behind-the-scenes views at the artist's sprawling estate in Hudson, New York. A special treat was left to the end when Olana Partnership president Sean Sawyer revealed that "one of the most art historically important views" that inspired Church (yet is not fully accessible to site visitors) will now be all of ours to gaze at 24/7.
Olana has launched the OLANA EYE, a live skycam from the top of the artist’s Studio Tower to share Church's iconic view of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. “I make a study from my studio window of a sunset or twilight nearly every day,” Church told fellow artist Martin Johnson Heade.
Olana’s famous Hudson Valley view is known for its dramatic atmospheric effects, including spectacular sunrise and sunset colors, which change throughout the year.
Noted as Church's greatest masterpiece, Olana commands unparalleled views down the Hudson River, across the Catskills and beyond. Beginning in 1860, he designed Olana’s 250 acres over several decades with an artist’s eye. The views beyond Olana — its viewshed — remain an essential part of Church’s original composition.
“We are having splendid Meteoric displays, magnificent sunsets and Auroras – red, green, yellow, and blue – and such – in profusion I have actually been drawn away from my usual steady devotion to the new house to sketch some of the fine things hung in the sky,” wrote Church in 1870.
The composed views from Olana convey an American identity tied to ideas of wilderness and scenic beauty. Olana connects visually to the iconic landscape where a distinctly American art movement, the Hudson River School, was created and continues to be celebrated. On canvas and in the creation of Olana, Church was able to translate nature into an immersive art form.
Over the last four decades, The Olana Partnership has collaborated with regional preservation organizations, governmental divisions and private landowners to protect the most important views from Olana. Text "Olana" to 518-219-0496 to send Olana a donation. Note: While public programs and tours have been suspended, Olana’s landscape and carriage roads are free to visit and open to the public, from 8:30AM to sunset, with social distancing in place, go online for more information.