The Aurora Borealis is a stunning painting created by Frederic Edwin Church in the year 1865. The artwork, measuring 142.3 by 212.2 centimeters, is owned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and depicts an Arctic expedition led by Isaac Israel Hayes. The cold landscape dominating the painting is comprised of thick ice and hard snow, illuminated with the strange lights of the aurora borealis.
Church was known for infusing his paintings with multiple layers of metaphorical meanings to invoke emotions in his viewers. It’s interesting to note that Church’s friend, Dr. Isaac Hayes, owned both the ship and sled team depicted in this artwork.
The painting presents a starkly beautiful portrayal of a natural phenomenon and explores man’s relation to nature through its symbolism. With its stunning display of color and light against a harsh arctic background, the Aurora Borealis serves as a testament to Church’s artistic vision while representing his deep reverence for mother nature.