Skip to Content

To best protect the health and safety of our community, the museum is temporarily closed. Learn more.

Distant View of Niagara Falls

Painting of a vast autumn scene with two very small figures in Indigenous clothing standing on a cliff overlooking a massive waterfall in the distance.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • Painting of a vast autumn scene with two very small figures in Indigenous clothing standing on a cliff overlooking a massive waterfall in the distance.

Date:

1830

Artist:

Thomas Cole
American, born England, 1801–1848

About this artwork

The grandeur of Niagara Falls inspired 19th-century artists to celebrate the sublime power of the American landscape. Thomas Cole, the patriarch of the Hudson River School of painting, was already well known for his scenes of untamed wilderness when he completed Distant View of Niagara Falls in 1830. The potency of Cole’s image lies in its depiction of unspoiled nature. The work bears little resemblance to the terrain surrounding the falls, which was marked by factories, scenic overlooks, and hotels that accommodated the multitude of tourists who visited every year. Cole placed two Native American figures at center to emphasize the North American setting, further romanticizing this view of a resplendent wilderness that at the time faced real threats wrought by industrialization and conquest.

On View

American Art, Gallery 171

Artist

Thomas Cole

Title

Distant View of Niagara Falls

Origin

United States

Date

1830

Medium

Oil on panel

Inscriptions

Signed, lower right: "Thomas Cole / 1830"

Dimensions

47.9 × 60.6 cm (18 7/8 × 23 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Friends of American Art Collection

Reference Number

1946.396

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share