Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900),
Cotopaxi, Ecuador, 1853
Oil on canvas
Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros
Painted while Frederic Edwin Church was in Quito, this view is one of his earliest representations of the Cotopaxi volcano. Symbolizing the theme of the union of man and nature, the artist depicts a contemplative figure in red, gazing at the landscape. The cross in the foreground not only serves as a compositional device, but also as a reminder of the Spanish colonization of the Americas. Traveling to Ecuador only thirty years after the country gained independence, Church would have seen such remnants of prior domination firsthand.