The Aegean Sea

Artist: Frederic Edwin Church (American, Hartford, Connecticut 1826–1900 New York)

Date: ca. 1877

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 54 in. × 84 1/4 in. (137.2 × 214 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Mrs. William H. Osborn, 1902

Accession Number: 02.23


Church toured the Near East and Europe in 1867–69. "The Aegean Sea," his final large-scale picture, is a “composite” landscape, based on sketches and photographs the artist had made in disparate locations: on the left are elements of the carved-rock city of Petra, in present-day Jordan; on the right, ancient Roman columns seen in Syria; and in the distance, a mosque suggesting Constantinople and classical ruins evoking the Acropolis in Athens. A double rainbow provides brilliant illumination for the idealized scene. These Old World sites, hallowed by history and the Bible, helped to confirm Church’s beliefs at a time when new scientific discoveries challenged his faith.