The Great Horseshoe Fall, Niagara

  • Alvan Fisher, The Great Horseshoe Fall, Niagara, 1820, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1966.82.1

Exhibition Label

Artist Alvan Fisher traveled to Niagara Falls during the summer of 1820 when formerly impassable roads were improving and tourism was booming. Fisher was careful to show in his painting that a visit to Niagara was not for sissies. His panoramic view includes a pair of men helping a companion over the bank as he returns from the dangerous flight of wooden steps leading down to the river. Contemporary newspapers were filled with stories about the harrowing ordeal of the stairs. Rickety and wet with spray, they subjected those fit enough to attempt them to buffeting winds and crumbling rocks that threatened to give way. Guidebooks touted the experience of the Niagara staircase as an immersion in God's power.

The Great American Hall of Wonders, 2011

The Great Horseshoe Fall, Niagara
On View
34 3/8 x 48 in. (87.2 x 122.0 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Landscape – waterfall – Niagara Falls
  • Figure group
  • Landscape – phenomenon – rainbow
  • Landscape – waterfall – Horseshoe Falls
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI