Natural History Science: Church and the Heart of the Andes


This painting, "The Heart of the Andes," is one of Church's most famous paintings from the trip to South America. Although it is a composed painting, it is intended not as a product of artiist creativity, but rather as a scientific summary of the landscape.

Church manages to achieve a sense of natural history, of natural process, in the painting. The scene has a past, a present, and a future. It is clear that the bank on the right has been undercut by the river. Eventually the tree on the bank will fall into the water.

Frederic Edwin Church, The Heart of the Andes, 1859, Metropolitan Museum of Art