Olana, sited at the top of a long slope, iwas the beloved home of the Hudson River School painter, Frederic Church, and his family.
Olana is a unique mixture of Victorian architectural elements and Middle-Eastern decorative motifs , designed by Church in close collaboration with architect Calvert Vaux. Church carefully designed Olana’s 250 acres with an artist’s eye to his property’s 360-degree “borrowed” views of neighboring hills, valleys, the Hudson River and distant mountains.
Stylistically, the main house is a villa with asymmetrical massing of towers and block masonry punctuated by fanciful windows and porches. The irregular silhouette of the exterior contrasts with the more regular rhythm of rooms arranged around a central hall. On the exterior, Middle Eastern motifs are carried out in colored brick, wood, slate, ceramic tile and especially stenciling. Together, the various motifs and themes create a unique artistic unity, one that is difficult to categorize.
The house is furnished and decorated as it was when the family lived there, with a collection of paintings, sculpture and furnishings that Frederic and Isabel Church acquired in their travels.
House and landscape tour bookings often fill days in advance. Reservations are recommended.
Whether you go or not, Frederic Church's Olana: Architecture and Landscape as Art, considers Olana, one of the most perfectly realized visions of harmony between people and their natural surroundings and a landmark of Picturesque landscape gardening with a Persian-inspired house at its summit embracing unrivaled panoramic views of the Hudson Valley. A rare American confluence of art and farming, aesthetics and conservation, landscape painting and landscape design, Olana represents a masterpiece of human creative genius. Frederic Church was a student of Thomas Cole and a major figure in the Hudson River School of landscape painting. The landscape, farm, house and collections that comprise Olana are a work of art conceived and executed by the preeminent mid-19th-century American landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church (1826 1900).
Treasures from Olana: Landscapes by Frederic Edwin Church refers to Church's collection of his own paintings to show all phases of his career. Sketches and finished paintings depict the breadth of his subjects and the high technical skills that established him as an eminent and influential artist in his own time. As works he held on to or reacquired and kept in his house during his lifetime, they embody the heart of his artistic vision and convey a deeply personal slant. As pictures he hung and lived with at Olana, they tell the larger story of that extraordinary place and are as illuminating when seen in context as on their own.