The Aegean Sea, ca. 1877
Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900)
Oil on canvas; 54 x 63 1/4 in. (137.2 x 160.7 cm)
Bequest of Mrs. William H. Osborn, 1902 (02.23)
In 1868–69, Church traveled from the Near East through Asia Minor to Rome, from where he made an excursion to southern Italy and Greece before returning to America. Painted eight years later, The Aegean Sea synthesizes his perceptions along that path, characterizing within a single panorama sites such as Petra in present-day Jordan, Baalbek in Lebanon, Constantinople in Turkey, and probably Athens in Greece. Then beset by ethnic and national conflict, this crossroads of East and West is transfigured by one of the artist's miraculous-looking rainbows, as if he were seeking to impose armistice and comity at a time, on the one hand, of astounding archaeological discovery in Asia Minor and, on the other, of war between Turkey and Russia.