The painting was until recently thought
by art historians to be a study for his painting Aurora Borealis!
It is now claimed to be of a sunset near Church's home at
Olana in the Hudson Valley looking westwards with the Catskill Mountains
on the right.
There is, however, a problem - the crescent moon. A waxing crescent
moon never appears to the right of
||the sunset point outside
of the tropics in the Northern hemisphere. The rays cannot be
anti-crepuscular because crescent moons
do not appear opposite the sun. Church's portrayals of nature were
usually so accurate that it is difficult to believe that he got it
wrong. The sketch could be of a sunrise looking eastwards in
the Hudson Valley, alternatively it could be a sunset seen by Church
during his travels in Ecuador and Jamaica.