The painting has a broad range of aspects, views and objects to consider. Starting with the right foreground. A woman with a pot sits on a rock beside a clifftop track. She is dressed in a white blouse and blue skirt, and has long dark hair under a straw hat. The woman appears to be admiring the view. The track by which she sits is bordered by rocks and flora. To the centre and left of the foreground is some of the view that the woman is admiring. A wide and tranquil river which reflects light and the landscape. A lone kayaker crosses the river with a kayak heavily laden with goods.

The central ground of the painting is cliffs either side of the river. The cliffs are covered in trees and foliage. On the far cliff tops, small white and dark dots suggest possible civilization. Slightly to the left of the centre is a magnificent waterfall, thundering down on the cliffs in several channels, the spray from the waterfall throws up rainbows, which also reflect in the river below. To the central right, thick forests come round to the clifftop on the right where the track is, and palm trees in fruit tower above the rocks and flora. The top section of the picture is where the mountains meet the sky and the clouds. Slightly to the left of the centre is the main feature of the picture, the Cotopaxi Volcano. The volcano rears up much taller than the other mountains, white-capped and smoking in contrast to the lower mountains which are brown and devoid of snow.

The mountain range from left to right become increasingly covered in cloud or smoke from the volcano, possibly rainforest cloud as well as volcano smoke. Above the mountain range, a light blue sky is almost clear of clouds although a few appear to the right, but the sky is hazed by the smoke from the volcano. The whole scene is in reflected sunlight but without the sun being visible, giving the whole picture a warm glow. The scene is tranquil and beautiful but with the smoke of the volcano a reminder of how the tranquillity may not last. A lovely atmospheric piece.

View of Cotopaxi in Detail Frederic Edwin Church