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American Paintings and Sculpture
Artist: Frederic Edwin Church, American, 1826–1900

Mt. Ktaadn

1853

Oil on canvas

36 1/4 × 55 1/4 in. (92.1 × 140.3 cm)
Stanley B. Resor, B.A. 1901, Fund
1969.71
Frederic Edwin Church traveled to northern Maine soon after the publication of Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Ktaadn and the Maine Woods.” In this canvas, Church brings the landscape that Thoreau called “exceedingly wild and desolate” subtly under control by imagining its civilized future. Cattle, sawmill, bridge, buggy, and men harmoniously coexist, domesticating the landscape without appearing to disturb its natural beauty. The soaring mountain remains outside the bounds of such cultivation. Church optimistically evokes the divine destiny of a young country by bathing the land in the sunset’s spiritual glow.
Geography: 
Depicted Mount Katahdin, Maine
Made in United States
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
American
Period: 
19th century
Classification: 
Paintings
Provenance: 

Marshall O. Roberts (1813–1880), New York, by 1856; N.Y. American Art Association, New York, 1897; Townsend Underhill (1863–1929), New York, from 1897; Edith Weekes Slade, Oyster Bay, N.Y., by 1967; Vose Galleries, Boston, 1967; R. Frederick Woolworth, Coe Kerr Gallery, New York, 1967–69; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Bibliography: 

Alan Shestack, ed., Yale University Art Gallery Selections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983), 58–59, ill.

“Seeing and Reading N.C. Wyeth and Robgert Louis Stevenson,” The Art Bulletin 88, No. 1 (September 2005).

Gail S. Davidson, Frederic Church Winslow Homer and Thomas Moran (New York: Bulfinch Press, 2006), 65, fig. 78.

Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 175, 240–41, no. 136, ill.

Christie’s New York, New York, Christie’s Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures, sale cat. (November 30, 2011), 72, ill.

John Wilmerding, Maine Sublime: Frederic Edwin Church’s Landscapes of Mount Desert and Mount Katahdin (Seattle: The Olana Partnership, 2012), 45, fig. 34.

David Little, Art of Katahdin: The Mountain, the Range, the Region, ed. Carl Little (China: Down East Maine, 2013), 31, ill.

David Anfam et al., Seen and Imagined: The World of Clifford Ross, eds. Jay A. Clarke and Joseph C. Thompson, exh. cat. (North Adams, Mass.: Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, 2015), 51, fig. 3.

David Little, John W. Neff, and Howard R. Whitcomb, Penobscot East Branch Lands: A Journey Through Time (Portland, Maine: Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., 2016), 28, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.