The Falls of Niagara

Artist: Edward Hicks (1780–1849)

Date: ca. 1825

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 31 1/2 x 38 in. (80 x 96.5 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1962

Accession Number: 62.256.3


In his successful professional career as an artist, Hicks painted elaborate signs, furniture, alphabet blocks, coaches, and fireboards. His prolific output fluctuated only after he became a Quaker preacher in 1814; the Quakers' general disapproval of painting as too worldly an occupation prompted Hicks to abandon his business. He later resumed painting and resolved his doubts of conscience by concentrating on subjects of obvious moral import. The poem inscribed around the edge of this picture is an excerpt from Alexander Wilson's The Foresters (1809–10), which inspired Hicks' 1819 missionary trip to visit the Native Americans in upstate New York. Hicks made his view of the falls from the Canadian side. The moose, beaver, rattlesnake, and eagle in the foreground are traditional emblems of North America.