FREDERIC E. CHURCH and OLANA
Frederic Church (1826-1900), one of America’s premier landscape painters, made his home on 250 acres of prime land in Columbia County, NY, overlooking the Hudson River. It is a short distance from where my daughter and her husband live and is a favorite place for us to visit when I am with them.
Church was greatly impressed by the Moorish architecture that he saw in Middle Eastern cities like Beirut and Jerusalem and he styled his estate to replicate his Persian fantasy. Even the name of the home, OLANA, is Persian.
Today OLANA is a New York State Historic Site. Luckily, with the help of the Olana Preservation, most of the furnishings have been preserved exactly as they were when Church was alive. The contents are an eclectic gathering of furniture, tapestries, rugs, bronzes, paintings and sculptures. They were collected over a 30 year period and represent his many interests.
The color scheme, the stenciling and the mosaic creations were all designed by Frederic Church. He even had furniture made to his design. His studio is unlike any that I’d seen before. It is very elaborate and even boasted small Turkish Rugs. (I found a replica of one of these rugs in the form of a mouse pad in the Gift Shop and couldn‘t resist it!) From this studio the visitor can still see the vistas recorded in Church’s paintings.
Frederic Church was a student of Thomas Cole, widely regarded as the first exponent of the Hudson River School of painting. He then went on to become one of the best known landscape painters in America. His home at OLANA offers magnificent sweeping vistas of the Catskill Mountains, the Hudson River and the Taconic Hills and he preserved these views in his paintings.
Even when OLANA isn’t open for viewing it is a treat to visit. We’ve done that in all seasons and find that wandering the picturesque grounds is just like being part of a masterpiece as grand as a Frederic Church painting.