Thursday, May 05, 2016
"Niagara" by Frederick Edwin Church, 1857

This dye transfer process reproduction of the famous painting by the American artist F. E. Church is a gift to the library by Canon and Mrs. A. H. Walker of the City of Niagara Falls. It hangs behind the Main Desk of the Victoria Avenue Library and is one of the most asked about  features of the building.  
Niagara by Church

Church's "Niagara " is considered by many to be the best executed and most famous painting of the Niagara River and the Falls ever done. It was painted from the Canadian shore, a short distance above Table Rock, and includes the sweep of the Horseshoe in a notable depiction of water and light. The time is towards evening.   

The painting won a prize at the Paris Exposition ten years after it was completed, and was widely exhibited throughout Europe before being purchased for the Corcoran Collection, National Gallery of Art. The Gallery gave permission to the Niagara Falls Public Library to photograph the painting, which was then mounted on a seven foot canvas. The reproduction was mounted and framed by the Library's staff and was hung behind the main service desk on December 15th, 1976.  

The Courier and Enquirer had this to say about the painting when it was first exhibited in the United States:   "It is a view of Niagara Falls which will cause all others ever painted to be forgotten. We know of no American landscape which unites as this does the merits of composition and treatment ... The picture has no foreground, to speak literally. It is water to the base line, and water everywhere. The only land that appears is in two strips of shore in the distance; which, by the way, are most delicately and truthfully painted ... The rainbow glows with luminous colour, as if it were cast by a prism. Its grand character is given to the picture by the skillful presentation of the great mass of water; and the marvel of its treatment is the expression of mobility which every part of it conveys ...One of its marvelous passages is the view up the River, where the distance of miles is clearly expressed in a space of half a hand's breadth"  
(Quoted in Dow, C. M. Anthology and bibliography of Niagara Falls. Albany, The State of New York, 1921. V.2., p 907-8)