Church made it is point to understand the nature he was illustrating and to expose himself to realms of the natural world beyond his home in Hudson, New York. He traveled, and often times on foot, to sketch the different areas of the United States and South America, sketching as he went. Once he was married and his children old enough to travel, Church took his family to see Europe and the Middle East, returning to New York at intervals to paint the scenes that he had witnessed in person.
This scene, painted on the cusp of the American Civil War, speaks to Church's awareness of the coming conflict. He shows the beauty of the land that will be fought over and within the painting, a miniscule eagle can be seen flying amidst this beautiful landscape. The colors are powerful, mostly because they are ones truly associated with a sunset. There is not much embellishment but the effect remains powerful. Some critics even say that the liberal use of red paint speaks to the coming blood shed and Church's opinion that that color should remain in the sunset instead of scattered across the fields.