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“The Parthenon” by Frederic Edwin Church

"The Parthenon" by Frederic Edwin Church

“The Parthenon” by Frederic Edwin Church

“The Parthenon” by Frederic Edwin Church is a large 1871 painting of the Parthenon. The Parthenon was built on the Acropolis of Athens, Greece, between 447 and 432 B.C. This painting was made after it had suffered its worst damage in 1687 when a Turkish gunpowder magazine located within the Temple exploded after a direct hit by the Venetian besieging army. It also reflects the scene after the removal of many of its surviving sculptures between 1800 to 1803 by Lord Elgin, who sold them to the British Museum. The American artist, Church, visited Greece in 1869 and spent several weeks in Athens, where he made numerous studies of the ruins of the Parthenon that later served as the basis for this 1871 work.

The Parthenon

The Parthenon is an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and one of the world’s most significant cultural monuments. The Parthenon was a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena and was constructed over 2,500 years ago when the state of Athens was at the peak of its power. The Athenians built the Parthenon as a celebration of their pan-Hellenic victory over the Persian invaders. It was also a thanksgiving to the gods for that victory. The Parthenon replaced an older temple of Athena that was destroyed by the Persian in 480 BC.

Following the first destruction of the Acropolis by the Roman invasion of Athens, when successive Roman generals looted the Parthenon, it later became incorporated into the Byzantine Empire when the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. After the Ottoman invasion and conquest, the Parthenon was turned into a mosque in the early 1460s. Later in 1687, as an Ottoman ammunition dump, the building was exploded by Venetian bombardment. The resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures. From 1800 to 1803, Lord Elgin removed many of the surviving sculptures, which were sold in 1816 to the British Museum in London, where they are now displayed. Today the Parthenon looks on battle scared but resolute with an amazing and inspiring survival story.

Frederic Edwin Church

Frederic Edwin Church (1826 – 1900) was an American landscape painter who was a central figure in the Hudson River School of American landscape painters. He is best known for painting large landscapes, often depicting mountains, waterfalls, and sunsets. Church’s paintings emphasized realistic detail, dramatic light, and panoramic views. During his time, he was one of the most famous painters in the United States.

The Parthenon

  • Title:                   The Parthenon
  • Artist:                 Frederic Edwin Church
  • Year:                   1871
  • Medium:            Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:      113 x 184.5 cm
  • Museum:           Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

Frederic Edwin Church

  • Artist:                       Frederic Edwin Church
  • Born:                        1826 – Hartford, Connecticut, United States
  • Died:                        April 7, 1900 (aged 73) – New York City, New York, United States
  • Nationality:              American
  • Movement:              Hudson River School
  • Notable Works:

Explore The Parthenon

Explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art

MET European Paintings Collection

MET Modern and Contemporary Art Collection

MET Greek and Roman Art Collection

MET Egyptian Art Collection

MET Asian Art Collection

MET Ancient Near Eastern Art Collection

MET American Wing Collection

MET Islamic Art Collection

MET Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas Collection

MET European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Collection

MET Medieval Art Collection

MET Drawings and Prints Collection

MET Costume Institute Collection

MET Arms and Armor Collection

MET Photograph Collection

MET Musical Instrument Collection



“Earth proudly wears the Parthenon
As the best gem upon her zone.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Photo Credit: 1)Frederic Edwin Church [Public domain]

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