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Distant View of Niagara Falls

Painting of a vast autumn scene with two very small figures in Indigenous clothing standing on a cliff overlooking a massive waterfall in the distance.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Painting of a vast autumn scene with two very small figures in Indigenous clothing standing on a cliff overlooking a massive waterfall in the distance.

Date:

1830

Artist:

Thomas Cole
American, born England, 1801–1848

About this artwork

Thomas Cole visited Niagara Falls in May 1829, composing this romanticized, autumnal scene the following year. Portraying the grandeur of the American landscape, the artist omitted the factories, scenic overlooks, and hotels that populated the area in the early 19th century. Cole expressed concern about the environmental impact of voracious industrialism, but at the same time his painting erased the human devastation wrought by colonialism and conquest in the region, which encompassed Attiwonderonk, Haudenosaunee, and Wenrohronon lands. The two Native American figures at center, combined with the falls, identify the setting as North America, but their diminished presence in scale and number reinforces the false idea of the “vanishing Indian” and is meant to signal impending transformation rather than acknowledge their stolen sovereignty.

On View

Arts of the Americas, Gallery 171

Artist

Thomas Cole

Title

Distant View of Niagara Falls

Origin

Niagara Falls

Date

1830

Medium

Oil on panel

Inscriptions

Signed, lower right: "Thomas Cole / 1830"

Dimensions

47.9 × 60.6 cm (18 7/8 × 23 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Friends of American Art Collection

Reference Number

1946.396

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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