Mt. Ktaadn Artist: Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900)


American Paintings and Sculpture

On view, 2nd floor, American Art before 1900

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.


Oil on canvas


36 1/4 × 55 1/4 in. (92.1 × 140.3 cm)

Credit Line

Stanley B. Resor, B.A. 1901, Fund

Accession Number



19th century


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 records is ongoing.



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.
  • American Art: Selections from the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2023), 132–33, no. 57, ill
  • 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
  • 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, Art of Katahdin: The Mountain, the Range, the Region, ed. Carl Little (China: Down East Maine, 2013), 31, ill
  • John Wilmerding, Maine Sublime: Frederic Edwin Church's Landscapes of Mount Desert and Mount Katahdin (Seattle: The Olana Partnership, 2012), 45, fig. 34
  • Christie's New York, New York, Christie's Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures, sale cat. (November 30, 2011), 72, ill
  • 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
  • Gail S. Davidson, Frederic Church Winslow Homer and Thomas Moran (New York: Bulfinch Press, 2006), 65, fig. 78
  • "Seeing and Reading N.C. Wyeth and Robgert Louis Stevenson," The Art Bulletin 88, No. 1 (September 2005),
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

landscapes (representations)


Signed lower center "F.E. Church - 1853"

Technical metadata and APIs


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