Frederick Stuart Church was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. At the age of thirteen he moved to Chicago, where he found a job with the American Express Company. During the Civil War he served as a private in the Union Army. At the conclusion of the war, Church returned to Chicago and took formal training in art at the Chicago Academy of Design.
In 1870 Church moved to New York City to further his artistic career. He continued his studies at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. To support himself Church sold caricatures and comic drawings to leading journals and magazines such as Harper's Weekly and Harper's Bazaar, and in time became known for his illustrations and drawings of anthropomorphized animals. As his reputation grew, Church began to paint works showing idealized images of women in sylvan or imaginary settings. His paintings were purchased by leading art collectors of the era such as Charles L. Freer, Henry Clay Frick, and Potter Palmer. Church exhibited regularly and was elected a member of the National Academy of Design.
[This is an excerpt from the interactive companion program to the videodisc American Art from the National Gallery of Art. Produced by the Department of Education Resources, this teaching resource is one of the Gallery's free-loan educational programs.]