Heart of the Andes (1859) by Frederic Edwin Church. Wikipedia says:
In 1853 and 1857, Church traveled in South America. One trip was financed by businessman Cyrus West Field, who wished to use Church’s paintings to lure investors to his South American ventures. Church was inspired by the Prussian explorer Alexander von Humboldt’s Cosmos and his exploration of the continent; Humboldt had challenged artists to portray the “physiognomy” of the Andes.
Two years after returning to the US, Church painted The Heart of the Andes (1859), now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at the Tenth Street Studio in New York City. It is more than five feet high and nearly ten feet in length (167.9 × 302.9 cm). Church unveiled the painting to an astonished public in New York City in 1859. The painting’s frame had drawn curtains fitted to it, creating the illusion of a view out a window. The audience sat on benches to view the piece and Church strategically darkened the room, but spotlighted the landscape painting. Church also brought plants from a past trip to South America to heighten the viewers’ experience. The public were charged admission and provided with opera glasses to examine the painting’s details. The work was an instant success. Church eventually sold it for $10,000, at that time the highest price ever paid for a work by a living American artist.
I don’t think Frederic Edwin Church is much talked about anymore, although I know almost nothing about art criticism, so I may be wrong about that. I suppose the characteristics of Hudson River School art – realism, detail, concealment of brushstrokes – may hold less appeal today. He was enormously popular in his own time, however, and I can only imagine what it would have been like to see his paintings at their original size at a time when color photography was unavailable.
A contemporary witness wrote: “women felt faint. Both men and women succumb[ed] to the dizzying combination of terror and vertigo that they recognize[d] as the sublime. Many of them will later describe a sensation of becoming immersed in, or absorbed by, this painting, whose dimensions, presentation, and subject matter speak of the divine power of nature.”