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Friday, March 07, 2014

Niagara Falls

As we all look forward fervently to the thaw, it's time for many people to start thinking about spring break. One of my favorite places I visited on a spring break was Niagara Falls, which I traveled to in college, many years ago. Even though it was still somewhat cold and not all the tourist operations were open for the season yet, the falls themselves were still amazing.

I am certainly not the only one to be impressed by Niagara Falls. The falls were an immensely popular subject for  drawings, paintings, and prints and one of my favorite items in the collection in an aesthetic sense is a set of hand-colored aquatints of Niagara Falls created by Charles Hunt after drawings by James Pattison Cockburn. Cockburn was a Royal Artillery officer who sketched North American scenes during a Canadian posting from 1826 to 1832. These prints were produced in 1833, at a time when Niagara Falls was just emerging as a tourist destination after recovering from the War of 1812. They were sold in both England and America and proved so popular that they were reprinted in 1857, when tourism at the falls had grown to over eighty thousand annually.



Charles Hunt after James Pattison Cockburn, The falls of Niagara: Table Rock & Horse-Shoe Fall     

London: Ackermann & Co., 1833. Rosenbach 1954.0943


Charles Hunt after James Pattison Cockburn, The Falls of Niagara: American Fall from Goat Island    
London: Ackermann & Co., 1833. Rosenbach 1954.0942

Charles Hunt after James Pattison Cockburn, The Falls of Niagara: View of the Horse-Shoe-Fall from Below Goat Island    
London: Ackermann & Co., 1833. Rosenbach 1954.0946

Charles Hunt after James Pattison Cockburn, The Falls of Niagara: View From the Upper Bank, English Side   
London: Ackermann & Co., 1833. Rosenbach 1954.0945
Charles Hunt after James Pattison Cockburn, The Falls of Niagara: General View Above the English Ferry   
London: Ackermann & Co., 1833. Rosenbach 1954.0945

Another great Niagara item in our collection is this photograph of Philip Rosenbach and an unidentified companion in front of the icy falls. It seems to be a studio photograph, either using a backdrop or with the men photographed separately and superimposed on an image of the falls, but you have to love the outfits.

Photograph of Philip Rosenbach and unidentified man. Rosenbach 2006.1706   
Maybe with some Photoshop I could make a virtual visit to the falls as well. Or maybe its time for a road trip.


Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

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