Lot 28
  • 28

* Jasper Francis Cropsey 1823-1900

bidding is closed


  • Jasper Francis Cropsey
  • Niagara Falls
  • signed J.F. Cropsey and dated 1860, l.l.
  • oil on canvas
  • 36 by 25 1/4 in. (91.4 by 64.1 cm)


The Brooklyn Institute (later the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences), Brooklyn New York, 1862 (acquired directly from the artist)
The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York, 1900 (gift from the above)
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York
Acquired by the present owners from the above, 1976


New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Springfield, Massachusetts, Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, A Century of American Landscape Painting 1800-1900, January-March 1938, no. 28, p. 27 (New York); no. 23, p. 27 (Springfield)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Department of Fine Arts, Carnegie Institute, A Century of American Landscape Painting 1800-1900, March-April 1939, no. 5, p. 25
Chicago, Illinois, Art Institute of Chicago; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Hudson River School, February-May 1945, no. 78, p. 118
Vancouver, British Columbia, Vancouver Art Gallery, Two Hundred Years of American Painting, March-April 1955, no. 18 
Buffalo, New York, The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy--Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Three Centuries of Niagara Falls: Oils, Watercolors, Drawings, Prints, May-September 1964, no. 25, p. 20, illustrated
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; Fort Worth, Texas, Amon Carter Museum; Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, An American Perspective: Nineteenth Century Art from the collection of Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Jr., October 1981-September 1982, pp. 17, 124-25, illustrated, illustrated in color p. 18, fig. 2


"Art Items," The New-York Daily Tribune, January 31, 1861, p. 7, col. 1
"Art Gossip," New York Times, February 4, 1861, p. 3
Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, Brooklyn, New York, Annual Report, 1898-1899, p. 261
William Goodyear, "Bell's Pictures," The Daily Standard Union, March 14, 1899
C.J. Bulliet, "Chicago Surveys the Hudson River School in Major Exhibition," The Art Digest, March 1, 1945, p. 5, illustrated
Wolfgang Born, American Landscape Painting: An Interpretation, New Haven, Connecticut, 1948, p. 59, illustrated fig. 38
David C. Huntington, Frederic Edwin Church, 1826-1900, Painter of the Adamic New World Myth, Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 1960, p. 91
David C. Huntington, The Landscapes of Frederic Edwin Church: Vision of an American Era, New York, 1966, pp. 3-4
William S. Talbot, Jasper F. Cropsey 1823-1900, Ph.D. dissertation, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, New York, 1972, no. 129, pp. 160-61, 322, 417-18, illustrated fig. 122 (as View of Niagara Falls)
The Natural Paradise: Painting in America 1800-1950, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1976, illustrated p. 98
"An American perspective: nineteenth-century art from the collection of Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Jr.," The Magazine Antiques, January 1982, p. 259, illustrated in color pl. II
Niagara: Two Centuries of Changing Attitudes, 1697-1901, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1985, illustrated in color
John F. Sears, Sacred Places: American Tourist Attractions in the Nineteenth Century, New York, 1989, p. 186, illustrated p. 187

Catalogue Note

Jasper F. Cropsey's visits to Niagara Falls in 1852 and 1855 inspired a number of canvases, which he completed between 1856 and 1863.  The present painting is the largest and most impressive of these representations.  Cropsey's return to the subject reflects both his affinity for the site about which he wrote, “This sublime nature about me constantly moves my soul in admiration of its creator” (quoted in Talbot, p. 391) and Niagara’s popularity as one of America’s most easily recognized natural wonders.  Niagara Falls was an appealing subject for several of the major artists of the day; in addition to Cropsey, Frederic Church and Albert Bierstadt painted major canvases dealing with the theme.  Cropsey chose a unique point of view, placing the monumental falls in the background and focusing on two figures enjoying the scenic wilderness on the American side, looking toward Canada.  

William Talbot observed, “Subtle purples, greys and blues provide atmospheric tones in the sky while the rainbow to the right is faint and delicate.  . . . The figures to the left, which have substantial scale . . ., create a definite mood to which the foreground contributes.  The unusual vertical format of the picture was noted soon after its arrival in America [from England where it was painted from sketches the artist took with him], when it was called ‘. . . a novel view of that very hackneyed subject, Niagara Falls’" (Talbot, pp. 160-61).  Cropsey shows us the grandeur of nature as it was experienced by the throng of tourists who increasingly visited the site.

Niagara Falls was considered important enough to be acquired by The Brooklyn Institute (a predecessor of The Brooklyn Museum), which purchased the painting from the artist in May 1862 for $195 according to Cropsey’s account book.