Fredrick Edwin Church's The Icebergs

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The Icebergs is an astounding masterpiece created by Fredrick Edwin Church thus displaying his technical and impressive marketing skills. This painting graces the Dallas Museum of Art with its historic significance on Fredric’s voyage to the North Atlantic in 1859 (Carr, 1980). The artwork utilizes seductive coloring with a glowing subterranean light that captures the viewer’s eyesight. Fredrick applied a glossy and tactile surface around the icebergs in the painting to attract the viewer’s eye. A sight of this painting creates room for an appealing aurora where one visualizes the Atlantic as a glorious place. In reality, the artwork demonstrates the scene as inhospitable and dangerous for people, as indicated by the broken mast in the foreground (Kelly, 1988). Church had carried out research on the deadly waters of North Atlantic back in 1859. While painting The Icebergs back from his voyage, Church was inspired to capture his experience among the icebergs with the captivating environment of the Arctic as elaborated by various explorers (Carr, 1980). This painting brings about a dramatic experience full of excitement and danger to viewers. An admiration of the foundation of icebergs as depicted enables one to visualize the Arctic with these icebergs surrounding the ocean. The broken mast goes one to display how harsh the environment can be to explores (Carr, 1980). 

Analyzing and Interpreting Aspects of the Artwork

            From the painting, Fredric captures the viewer’s eye with the glorious icebergs glazed by the appealing brilliant lighting (Mitchell, 1989). This goes on to demonstrate the magnificent environment of the Arctic with huge icebergs surrounding it. Admirably, the painting shows how cold it is at North Atlantic leading to the formation of these icebergs. The painting portrays how Church was inspired and motivated through his voyage as it captures his admiration of what he had seen. The broken mast in the foreground might be referring to Sir John Franklin’s unlucky voyage to the Northwest passage during his expedition in the Arctic (Carr, 1980). This goes on to impose a dramatic imagination as to how fatal the expedition might have turned out for the sailors. It also establishes a fundamental scale revolving around the painting thus relaying Church’s desire to convey an immense outlook on the subject. A drastic encounter is created in the viewer’s imagination as one takes in what might have occurred leading to such drastic results. The masterpiece was carefully crafted to appease the viewer’s eye with its fine finishing touch that glazes one with aw.

            Fredrick goes on to demonstrate the sizes of icebergs in the Arctic as conveyed in the painting (Mitchell, 1989). One can visualize how massive these icebergs are from their appearance. The small broken mast being overshadowed by a huge iceberg gives the viewer a fundamental picture as to how huge the icebergs are. The Icebergs brings the idea of how icebergs are distributed in the Arctic making it difficult for explorers to find a passage through waters (Mitchell, 1989). The clear skies above the icebergs display good climatic conditions regardless of the massive icebergs surrounding the area. The destructive nature of these icebergs as demonstrated by the broken mast goes on to relay warning for all those who may be considering exploring the Arctic (Kelly, 1988). Church aimed at educating viewers on what to expect at the North Atlantic while creating the sense of adventure with the desire to visualize the great icebergs in the Arctic.

Evaluating the Artwork

            The Icebergs is an amazing masterpiece that captures the viewer’s imagination. I liked the fact that I could visualize the massive sizes of the icebergs as indicated in the picture. This created a sense of understanding into what Fredric had observed during his voyage in the North Atlantic. The artwork created an appealing desire in my imagination as I was fascinated by the surrounding environment of the Arctic as demonstrated in the painting. I could also imagine myself in the extremely cold environment of North Atlantic with the massive icebergs floating in the ocean. I disliked the fact that the painting portrayed the harsh, inhospitable, and dangerous scenery at the Arctic through the broken mast. This made me perceive that voyage through the iceberg-filled ocean was nearly impossible and life-threatening. The painting acted as both an insight or for one to explore the Arctic and as a warning to the dangerous conditions to be faced. Fredric’s artwork was an inspiration on the keen level of originality imposed from his artwork. The painting displays his admirable efforts in creating an interesting experience to the viewer’s eye. I was moved by the appealing, glossy, and glowing subterranean light created around the tactile surfaces of the icebergs. This scenery moved me to appreciate the environmental conditions of the Arctic regardless of the fact that I have not been there yet.


            The Icebergs acts as a purveyor of ideas as it creates an imaginative sight in the viewer’s eye where one visualizes the majestic icebergs towering over the Arctic. It communicates the values of the artists in appreciating what he had observed in his voyage of North Atlantic. Church captivates his viewers through the motivating colors displaying an appealing outlook of the icebergs as they stand in the ocean. The painting influences the world through the creation of an environment where many might not be able to reach. This is captured through the creation of an imaginative experience where one visualizes the Arctic with the tall icebergs surrounding the ocean making the waters dangerous for expeditions (Kelly, 1988). The broken mast allows the viewer to understand how dangerous and inhospitable the environment around the Arctic is thus indicating a sign of caution while going on any expeditions at the region. An artist needs to be aware of the consequences of his/her artwork as their artwork will be utilized as focal points of study for future generations.

Allowing viewers to appreciate the artwork requires the artist to instill positive aspects of their art making it easier for viewers to engage with the full content of the artwork. A clear understanding of the artwork will also enable the artist to pass the necessary lessons to be learned from their artwork. Fredric Edwin Church demonstrates his appreciation of North Atlantic with the breath-taking scenery created by the majestic icebergs. He also captures the dangers surrounding this environment by taking note of the broken mast to indicate how inhospitable the Arctic might be. We are all responsible for what we say and do in account that our words and actions might positively or negatively impact those around us. This implies that we need to consider whether what we do or say will impact those around us. Essentially, there will always be a lesson or lessons to be learned from our actions and words hence it is crucial to consider the effects imposed by these actions and words.

Works Cited

Carr, Gerald L., and Frederic Edwin Church. Frederic Edwin Church--the Icebergs. Dallas

Museum of Fine Arts, 1980.

Kelly, Franklin. Frederic Edwin Church and the National Landscape. Smithsonian Inst Pr, 1988.

Mitchell, Timothy. "Frederic Church's" The Icebergs": Erratic Boulders and Time's Slow

Changes." Smithsonian studies in American art 3.4 (1989): 3-23.

August 01, 2023


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