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Jamaica Bay

Frederic Edwin Church

Artwork Details

Jamaica Bay
Frederic Edwin Church
oil on paper laid on canvas
11 ⅝ in x 18 1/16 in (29.53 cm x 45.88 cm);11 ⅝ in x 18 1/16 in (29.53 cm x 45.88 cm)
Gift of Gilbert M. Frimet


March 28 2009
Church was a leading representative of the Hudson River school, a term that is retroactively applied to a group of painters based in New York City who specialized in paintings of the American landscape in the two decades before the Civil War (1861–1865). These painters constituted a loosely organized group rather than a school, united by their unprecedented focus on the majestic scenery of their young country. They were also united by their method, which stressed the actual study of nature and the use of meticulous preparatory sketches made at the site; these were later worked up into carefully conceived compositions in the studio. It was Church’s habit to spend the spring and summer sketching, and the fall and winter in the studio composing his finished paintings. Beginning in 1847, he spent the warm months sketching the landscape of New York and New England in oil and pencil. This small view is one of Church’s quick sketches of a shallow inlet off the southwestern shore of Long Island. The entire landscape is masterfully generated from a few quick and suggestive brushstrokes.

Subject Matter:

Quickly executed oil sketch depicting Jamaica Bay, a shallow inlet of the Atlantic on the southwestern shore of Long Island between the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.
While the simplicity of the composition may arise from the informal nature of the sketch itself, it also reflects the shift in taste at that time away from the elaborate, minutely detailed, and geographically specific landscapes for which Church is best known.

Physical Description:

Horizontal landscape of a misty harbor view with several small boats in distance near center

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