Rembrandt Peale (1778–1860)
Niagara Falls from the Canadian Side, Table Rock, 1831
Oil on canvas, 18 1/4 x 24 1/4 in.
Inscribed on verso: Niagara Falls / viewed from the Canada side / showing the Platform called Table Rock. / by Rembrandt Peale.
Provenance: the artist’s estate; sale, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Valuable Original Oil Paintings by the Late Rembrandt Peale, November 18, 1862; by descent in a family to a private collection, Connecticut; John H. Surovek Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, c. 1981; Neil Andrews; John H. Surovek Gallery, 2006; private collection
Literature: Jeremy Elwell Adamson, “Frederic Edwin Church’s ‘Niagara’: The Sublime as Transcendence” (Ph. D. diss., University of Michigan, 1981), 151-52, ill. 131; Lillian B. Miller, In Pursuit of Fame: Rembrandt Peale, 1778-1860, exh. cat. (Washington, D. C.: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, in association with the University of Washington Press, 1992), 211-14, 302, fig. 95, pl. 27 (illustrated); Lillian B. Miller, ed., The Peale Family: Creation of a Legacy 1770-1870, exh. cat. (New York: Abbeville Press in association with The Trust for Museum Exhibitions and the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 1996), 83-86, pl. 51).
Related works: Falls of Niagara, Viewed from the American Side, 1831, oil on canvas, 18 1/4 x 24 1/8 in. (with Godel & Co.); General View of Niagara Falls, 1831, oil on linen, 18 1/4 x 24 in. (Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida); Falls of Niagara from Goat Island, 1832, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 in. (formerly collection of Lee B. Anderson, New York).
As Niagara Falls became a requisite subject for print series devoted to the American landscape, the number of visitors to the Falls increased rapidly. Improved transportation, especially with the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, was another factor. The joint rise of tourism and printmaking, in turn, affected the production of views, since more experienced, sophisticated viewers required novelty and variety. Rembrandt Peale’s response was to create at least five different views to suit a range of tastes and moods.
While awe at the sublime grandeur of the Falls was a common initial reaction for artists and visitors alike, a more placid mood developed toward the mid-nineteenth century, as the Falls became a common destination and acquired the atmosphere of a resort. Pictorially, this translated into quiet, picturesque compositions like Niagara Falls from the Canadian Side, Table Rock, which presents the wide expanse of water at the base of the Horseshoe Falls’ wide arc. Table Rock appears at the end of the Falls on the right, and the American side can be glimpsed at the left. A single figure lounges peacefully on a flat rock at the edge of the water, gazing out at the warm light that suffuses the cloud of mist at the base of the Falls and the hazy sky above. The great cataract seems to fall silent as the viewer focuses on the fine atmosphere.