John Frederick Kensett was a noteworthy landscape painter and engraver, who played a vital role in the American art scene of his time as a member of the Hudson River School. He is best known for his masterpiece, “Niagara Falls and the Rapids,” painted in 1851. The artwork portrays the artist’s unique vision of one of North America’s greatest natural wonders, Niagara Falls.
The painting depicts the turbulent rapids that run alongside Niagara Falls. In contrast to other depictions of Niagara Falls, Kensett’s painting highlights the rough waters whipping around rocks with such intensity that it forms whitecaps on its surface. The artist captured this effect by using short brushstrokes representing vibrant movement and energy.
Unfortunately, Kensett died at 51 years old after jumping into freezing water to retrieve someone else’s body who had drowned near Newport. Nonetheless, his artwork still resonates with art collectors worldwide due to its exceptional technical skill and progressive approach to depicting nature.
Kensett was an active socialite who enjoyed cigars and whiskey among friends from various departments like literature or science across New York City during his time as an artist in residence there. His outstanding artistic skill combined with his charming personality made him loved by many as an influential member of America’s art scene during his time.