How did people visualize other landscapes in 1859—a time before color prints, TV, or the Internet? One way was through the eyes of artists such as Frederic Edwin Church. Another way was through the writings of explorers such as Alexander von Humboldt, whose stories based on his five-year (1799–1804) expedition in the New World were widely translated and read. The “Heart of the Andes” (pictured here) is the result of Church’s travels in South America that were inspired by the writings of Humboldt. The painting caused a sensation in New York in 1859—twelve to thirteen thousand people paid twenty-five cents each to view it. The picture was subsequently shown in London, where it was also a hit, and coincided with the publication of a book by another explorer inspired by Humboldt—Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” was published on 24th November, 1859.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA. Public domain image (http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-met/policies-and-documents/image-reso...)
Artist: Frederic Edwin Church (American, Hartford, Connecticut 1826–1900 New York)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 66-1/8 x 119-1/4in. (168 x 302.9cm)
Credit Line: Bequest of Margaret E. Dows, 1909
Accession Number: 09.95