Frederic Edwin Church’s painting, Niagara Falls, from the American Side, completed in 1867, is considered one of the most outstanding landscape paintings of its era. The painting depicts a thundering cascade of water pouring down Niagara Falls from the American side. It captures a symbol of America’s identity at a time when industry and civilization were rapidly expanding.
Niagara Falls was Church’s largest work, based on sketches he made while observing the falls. The painting captured the public imagination in America and Europe when it was exhibited at New York commercial art gallery of Williams, Stevens, and Williams. It is noteworthy that even Queen Victoria was reported to have admired it.
The painting represents an idealized view of nature while reflecting the spirit of Manifest Destiny that had taken hold in America at that time. It aimed to show man’s control over nature while celebrating nature’s power and beauty. Today, it remains an iconic piece of American art history and is held in high regard as one of Church’s finest works.
Church’s style blended realism with Romanticism as seen in his use of colors to capture light effects for exaggerations purposes. His paintings were marked by exceptional detailing such that viewers could feel immersed into what they see on canvas resulting from his meticulous technique he adopted.