The landscape artist Frederic Edwin Church came from a wealthy family from Hartford, Connecticut. In fact, he was a direct descendant of the British Puritan pioneer Richard Church, who took an exploratory journey through unknown territory of the US, along with Thomas Hooker. Also, his grandfather, Samuel Church, founded the first paper mill in the US, in Massachusetts. Son of Eliza and Joseph Church, Frederic was born in May 1826, and because of his financial stability, he was able to pursue his passion for painting at an early age. At only 18 years old, Church knew what his aesthetics were and went after the best landscape painter of the time to mentor him as his teacher, Thomas Cole. After some years of dedication, Church became the youngest artist to be an Associate of the National Academy of Design.
Church was learning about art in the Catskills, NY, the birthplace of the Hudson River School, a group founded by Cole. This movement began in the mid-XIX century and was deeply influenced by Romanticism, meaning they often idealized their portrayal of landscapes, emphasizing the grandiose beauty of nature. The artists of this movement would gather not only in the countryside of the Catskills, but also the Adirondack Mountains, the White Mountains, and the Hudson River Valley. Cole passed away prematurely in 1848, opening the movement to the second generation of artists, which consisted of his best students - including Church, Sanford Robinson Gifford, and John Frederick Kensett. The three leading artists of the second generation gave considerable attention to the light of the landscapes they portrayed - what is known as Luminism. Along with other painters, they founded the world famous Metropolitan Museum of Art located in New York City.
Only during the beginning of Church’s artistic career did his work resemble his teachers’, and after some time he focused more on the realistic style while creating multiple light sources. The artist, just like Cole, was a Protestant, which reflected on early works as well. Church and his peers wished to portray the untouched and unsettled pastoral landscapes of North America, which were quickly being occupied by civilization. By 1850, Church was officially settled in New York City and followed his method of going out to nature to make sketches of the beautiful landscapes in pencil, pastel, and oil painting, while retrieving to his studio to paint the final artworks indoors.
In 1853 and 1857, the American artist took two very influential trips to the exotic city of Quito, in Ecuador. There he produced many drawings of the foreign landscapes which inspired him greatly to later conclude artworks like The Andes of Ecuador, The Heart of the Andes, and Cayambe. Most of his paintings were not only produced for the sake of art, but for science as well - as he depicted every plant and animal as a precise scientific study, although idealistic. By the time the American Civil War broke out, Church had concluded the painting that was also produced as a lithographic print to sell on behalf of the families of the soldiers, entitles Our Banner in the Sky. Church passed away at 73 years of age, in April 1900.