About this artwork
Thomas Cole visited Niagara Falls in May 1829, composing this romanticized, autumnal scene the following year. Portraying the grandeur of the American landscape, the artist omitted the factories, scenic overlooks, and hotels that populated the area in the early 19th century. Cole expressed concern about the environmental impact of voracious industrialism, but at the same time his painting erased the human devastation wrought by colonialism and conquest in the region, which encompassed Attiwonderonk, Haudenosaunee, and Wenrohronon lands. The two Native American figures at center, combined with the falls, identify the setting as North America, but their diminished presence in scale and number reinforces the false idea of the “vanishing Indian” and is meant to signal impending transformation rather than acknowledge their stolen sovereignty.
- Thomas Cole
- Distant View of Niagara Falls
- Niagara Falls (Place depicted)
- Oil on panel
- Signed, lower right: "Thomas Cole / 1830"
- 47.9 × 60.6 cm (18 7/8 × 23 7/8 in.)
- Friends of American Art Collection