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Niagara Falls from Below

Niagara Falls, Ontario

Circa 1766, Thomas Davies

water color & gouache over graphite on paper | *** painting style

New York Historical Society Collection
Abbott & Foster-Davis Fund, 1954.3


As with many artists in early Canada, Thomas Davies was a military draughtsman first and foremost. He is somewhat of an exception in that he could render this new land with a slightly more refined artistic flare, breathing life into what would otherwise be literal descriptions. As in all Davies landscapes, there

is a human presence. Here two European soldiers gaze at the spectacular Niagara Falls. The presence of these men, coupled with the diminutive size of the distant falls, suggests a dominion over this new land by an Imperialist ideology.

The inclusion of the Aboriginal figures most likely added an element of exoticism to the image, not uncommon for the naive illustrations of the new world at this time. Not only is there a sense of discovering a new land but of discovering a new people as well.