Frederic Church, the 19th-Century Hudson River artist, and his wife Isabel filled their home -- itself inspired by an ancient Persian fortress-treasure house -- with things brought back from their travels, which they assembled not according to scientific or ethnographic categories, but according to sensual and artistic considerations. Mrs. Church, for example, was an avid collector of ferns, which she beautifully pressed, but rarely labeled. This was consistent “with the way the Churches lived and collected all their lives: of the thousands of artifacts they returned with from the Near East, few had much actual monetary value. Rather, ... Mrs. Church contrived to make the whole collection of curiosities look like the natural part of a comfortable, living house.” Or so we are told in the Times Literary Supplement of Oct., 8, 2010.
Their house, Olana, sits on a hilltop off Route 9G, on the east shore of the Hudson, near the town of Catskill, and can be visited today. A relic of a more gracious time and of life itself seen as art.