Friday, 1 April 2016

Niagara inspiration

(water and stream) 

I think you're gonna like this posting. The paintings will take you from one artist to the other but there's a connection, just follow my stream (Niagara) of consciousness. Clicking the names will bring you to the Wiki-biographies and museums. 

This posting started with stumbling over this "steaming" painting, and Googling I found a companion, surprised there wasn't a site showing them together. The one above was created in 1892 and is in the MFA in Boston obviously inspired, or a tribute, to her teacher William Morris Hunt 1878 sketch (below, with rainbow). He died 1879. 

The second (below) one I found has a date of 1898 and I have no idea of the paintings location. Both paintings are by Sarah Wyman-Whitman (1842-1904) a talented bankers daughter. Read and see more of her divers art here in Lilly's (sadly discontinued) Japonisme blog. 

Sarah started her painting lessons (she did far more then paint alone) with William Morris Hunt (1824-1879). One of the last paintings (commissioned by the New-York State Capitol Assembly Chamber) he did was this Niagara Falls, in 1878. Hunt had studied in Paris and so had Sarah. 

Hunts Niagara painting(s) are kept in the Boston Museum of fine Arts 

Hunt, as a popular Boston portrait painter tried to outdo a much praised  painting of Niagara Falls created in 1858 by Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900) a celebrated American landscape painter whom Hunt much admired. He even took, 20 years later, for his view the same vantage point. (I think he maybe did, outdo Church....)

 Church' "Niagara" is since 1858 in the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington 
along with this one below

George Innes (1825-1894), 30 years later, was also commissioned to paint the famous Falls and also after a stay in Paris trying to outdo (there are critics claiming he did) Churches majestic painting in 1884, he visited the falls in 1881. His "Blue Niagara" (below) is also in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

A colleague and friend of Church, Louis Rémy Mignot (1831-1870) the son of a Charleston coffee-shop owner and baker (not a banker like Sara Whitman) had studied in the Netherlands (with Andreas Schelfhout (1787-1870), returned to America and opened a studio in New York. He's traveled to South America with Church to paint. And obviously to Niagara too. His brother settled in the Netherlands leading a successful tobacco company in Eindhoven.

 Mignots' Niagara is the Brooklyn Museum in New-York.

Returned from South America the Civil War had broken out and he emigrated to Europe settling in London, exhibiting in the Paris World Fair in 1867 and in the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Traveling in France he was caught up in another war, the French-German War of 1870-71, was taken prisoner by accident in Paris, eventually released, returned to his house Brighton to die of small-pocks (variola) soon after, only 39, probably infected in a Paris prison.  (He has no  English Wikipedia entrance)

(Where-abouts of Whales' "Niagara" unknown to me).

This last Niagara falls painting I've selected from the hundreds of paintings showing the famous falls because it is obviously inspired by the above artists. It's by Robert Reginald Whale (1805-1887), born in Cornwall he was a self taught painter, but he also went to study in London. He left England and immigrated to Burford Ontario, settling later in nearby Brantford in 1852 where he remained the next 35 years painting. He travelled back to England 1870, 1872 and 1878. He is the father of painters Robert Heard Whale and John Claude Whale and is an uncle to John Hicks WhaleHe lived only 40 miles from Niagara Falls...... 


All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only. (Please do not sue)


  1. The Japanese painter-printmaker Hiroshi Yoshida made an early woodblock print of Niagara Falls in 1925:

    The Scottish printmaker Paul Binnie, who studied at the Yoshida studio while Hiroshi's son Toshi was still alive, also made a print of the Falls in homage to Yoshida: Binnie's original painting can be seen here:

  2. I just came across an attractive Currier and Ives lithograph with hand-coloring at the Old Print Gallery in Washington, D.C.