Niagara Gazette

Columns

January 22, 2013

BRADBERRY: More to the art than meets the eye

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Hopefully the painting will inspire them to marvel at our amazing history too, and help us preserve and develop it. Titled “Niagara Falls," Richardt’s painting, completed in 1856 during the peak years of the operation of the famous Underground Railroad which passed right through Niagara Falls and Western New York on the way to relative freedom in Canada, reflects a turbulent time in America’s and especially Niagara’s history before the Civil War, only six years after the adoption of the Fugitive Slave Act which was signed into law by Buffalonian, President Millard Fillmore in 1850.

Other fine paintings including Niagara Falls in Winter, 1848, oil on canvas by another renowned artist, Régis François Gignoux is prominently installed in the Senate Wing of the U.S. Capitol building.

Gignoux apparently made a career for himself painting American landscapes including Niagara Falls, which depicts Terrapin Tower and Horseshoe Falls from Goat Island.

According to the Questroyal Fine Art, LLC. “After immigrating to the United States from his native France in 1840, Régis François Gignoux became entranced by the grandeur of the American landscape and devoted his career to capturing its most powerful sites in paint. Niagara Falls exerted a particularly strong hold on the artist, and he attempted to capture its sublime scope in several paintings. His most famous rendition, Niagara Falls in Winter (1848), is prominently installed in the Senate Wing of the U.S. Capitol building.”

Another painting, based on a drawing Frederic Edwin Church made at Niagara in July 1856 on a sepia photograph touched with color, was commissioned by the New York art dealer Michael Knoedler in 1866.

One unnamed art critic boasts online, “It may originally have been destined for the Universal Exhibition in Paris, as Church was selected to represent America there. It was bought in 1887 by John S. Kennedy who presented it to his native Scotland. It is the only major example of Church’s work in a European public collection. The painting is currently on display at the National Gallery of Scotland.

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