A General View of the Falls of Niagara

Media - 1967.85 - SAAM-1967.85_1 - 67396
Copied Alvan Fisher, A General View of the Falls of Niagara, 1820, oil on canvas, 34 3848 18 in. (87.2122.3 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1967.85
Free to use

Artwork Details

A General View of the Falls of Niagara
34 3848 18 in. (87.2122.3 cm.)
lower left in oil: A. Fisher pixt 1820 frame verso left in crayon: Castano stretcher stamped: J.B. Wiggin and Co./Gilders and makers of/Artists Stretchers, Canvas,/... cardboard backing upper left in pencil: 4/6/49/143 Newbury St. Boston Mass.
Credit Line
Museum purchase
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Figure group
  • Indian
  • Landscape — weather — cloud
  • Landscape — waterfall — Niagara Falls
  • Landscape — Canada — Niagara Falls
Object Number

Artwork Description

This scene by Alvan Fisher conveys the magnificent beauty of Niagara Falls, which quickly became an icon for the new nation.Tiny figures stand at the rim of the cataract, their gestures expressing awe and delight in the grandeur of the scene before them.Lacking a lengthy, cultured past, Americans looked to the grandeur of the landscape to reflect the scale of the new country’s ambitions.Just as the Seven Wonders of the World had given Europeans a sense of pride in their past, Niagara Falls and other natural wonders became symbols of America’s identity.