Rainy Season in the Tropics (1866) by Frederic Edwin Church

Rainy Season in the Tropics - Frederic Edwin Church - 1866

Artwork Information

TitleRainy Season in the Tropics
ArtistFrederic Edwin Church
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions56 1/4 x 84 3/16 in. (142.9 x 213.8 cm)
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationFine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, US

About Rainy Season in the Tropics

“Rainy Season in the Tropics,” created in 1866 by artist Frederic Edwin Church, is an exquisite oil on canvas that embodies the essence of Romanticism. The artwork, measuring 56 1/4 by 84 3/16 inches (142.9 x 213.8 cm), portrays an awe-inspiring landscape and is included in the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, located in San Francisco, CA, United States.

The artwork presents a dramatic and vivid tropical landscape under the phenomena of a double rainbow arching across the sky. The foreground is lush with vibrant greenery, featuring detailed foliage and tall palms, indicative of the tropical climes. In the lower right corner, tiny figures in red give scale to the majestic scene, standing on a rocky outcrop overlooking the cascading waterfall below. Their presence is modest but significant, adding a human element to the vastness of the natural environment.

The central tableau is dominated by sheer cliffs enveloped in moisture-laden mists that evoke the humid atmosphere of the tropics after a rainstorm. The mountains then give way to a serene lagoon that mirrors the sky. The background of the painting gradually recedes into softer tones, presenting a sublime contrast between the shadowed cliffs and the tranquil waters.

Above, the sky is a marvel of luminosity, where the radiant double rainbow becomes the focal point. Its vivid hues contrast beautifully against the subdued blues and grays of the cloudy sky. The left side of the rainbow displays a brighter intensity, echoing the sunlight that illuminates the mountaintop peering in the distance, possibly hinting at hope and renewal after the stormy weather.

Church’s mastery of light and his ability to convey depth and texture are apparent in his brushwork, from the glistening wet rocks and foliage to the softened edges of the distant clouds. The artwork, as a whole, conveys a sense of peace, wonder, and the enduring power of nature, hallmarks of the Romantic movement to which Church belonged. The composition skillfully balances the grandeur of the natural world with a profound sense of the sublime, inviting contemplation and admiration.

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