In the first article of these two looking at paintings of waterfalls, I ended with Edward Lear’s watercolour of a waterfall on the Kalamas River in Albania, which he painted in 1851. The following year, Frederic Edwin Church was inspired by the writing of Alexander von Humboldt to travel to Central America to paint its ‘physiognomy’. In 1857, Church reversed direction to paint one of the most famous views of the Niagara Falls.
Jennifer Raab has set Niagara (1857) in its historical context, at a time when secession of Southern states seemed imminent. The Niagara Falls then became associated with union and the unity of its details.
Thomas Baines was shortly to travel with David Livingstone’s expedition to the Zambezi in 1858, where he sketched and painted the first European images of the Victoria Falls.
This lithograph of The Falls from the East End of the Chasm to Garden Island was made from his original work in 1865.
While the American landscape artist Albert Bierstadt was travelling in Europe, he continued to paint views of his trips to the west of America in a series of rented studios. When in Rome during the winter of 1867-68, he painted Among the Sierra Nevada, California. This was first exhibited in London, won a gold medal in Berlin, and itself toured Europe on a wave of critical appreciation. This was based on his visit to the Sierra Nevada in 1863, and in 1873 was purchased for Helen Huntington Hull, the granddaughter of William Brown Dinsmore, to grace a wall in The Locusts, the family estate in Dutchess County, New York.
Another of Bierstadt’s views of America painted during his European tour is this of Glen Ellis Falls (1869), near Gorham in New Hampshire.
Not long after Bierstadt returned to America, the young Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler started making views of his native country.
Among Hodler’s earliest surviving works are impressive views of two of the most famous Alpine waterfalls: The Upper Reichenbach Falls (c 1871), above, and The Staubbach Falls (1871), below. Both are painted in oils on cardboard, and the sort of landscape which must have been very popular with tourists.
One of the finest paintings of an American waterfall was made by the British botanical artist Marianne North. The Yosemite Waterfall, California (1875) shows the highest waterfall in what’s now Yosemite National Park, which drops a total of 739 metres (2,425 feet) in two major plunges.
While North travelled west in America, Eugene von Guérard was exploring some of the wild places in Tasmania.
In 1877, von Guérard painted this isolated Waterfall on the Clyde River, Tasmania, which is in the central uplands of the island.
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Niagara Falls had become a Mecca for artists. Among its finest paintings are those of William Morris Hunt, George Inness and John Henry Twachtman, spanning a period of less than twenty years.
Hunt painted Niagara (1879) from the other side, and is unusual in that he used casein paints rather than his customary oils.
This is one of George Inness’s late works, being painted in 1889, when the artist was sixty-four. He shows faithfully the distant signs of heavy industry.
This last view of the Falls was painted by John Henry Twachtman, in about 1894.
My final painting brings us well into the twentieth century, and back to the fjords of Norway as seen by Nikolai Astrup.
Waterfall and Mill House (1923) shows half a dozen small huts for watermills dotted among the waterfalls high above Jølster Lake. Although the snows have gone from the hilltops, there is still plenty of water to drive those small mills.
One final tip to those who paint landscapes in the searing heat of summer: waterfalls are cool and refreshing places, as well as being excellent motifs.