Philadelphia: Wm. Smith, 702 So. 3rd Street, [ca. 1850]. Sheet size: 27 1/2 x 14 7/8 inches; image size: 25 1/4 x 11 inches. Hand-colored engraving. Reissue. Some toning, a few closed tears, chip to lower corner touching border, shallow curved chip at right edge about 1/4 inch at maximum into image of trees, easily covered by mat. Dow: Anthology and Bibliography of Niagara Falls (1921), Vol. 2, p. 900; not in Jacobowitz: James Hamilton, 1819-1878, American Marine Painter. Item #44144
A low, broad view of Niagara Falls, which shows the steamship Maid of the Mist at the foot of the falls, a house across the river, and figures beside the falls. Captions below the image read: Painted by J. Hamilton from a sketch by T. Taylor; Published by Wm. Smith, 702 So. 3rd Street, Philadelphia; Engraved at J.M. Butler's establishment, 242 Chestnut St. Philada.
James Hamilton (1819-1878) was an Irish/American painter, mainly self-taught through the study of engravings, though he did attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for a while, and by 1852 was regarded by the well-known engraver John Sartain "as occupying a place in the very front rank of American artists" and he "confidently predict[ed] for him a still higher position in his profession," (See Jacobowitz: James Hamilton, 1819-1878, American Marine Painter, p.9). After a year abroad in 1854 to study the works of Turner, whom he much admired, and other great landscape painters, he returned home establishing himself as an illustrator and teacher of Thomas and Edward Moran. Hamilton was known in his lifetime as 'the American Turner' because of Turner's influence. "From the 1840s until the artist’s death, James Hamilton’s paintings of stormy seas and bustling ports were exhibited widely in Philadelphia and across the United States. Several works were translated into popular black-and-white prints that circulated broadly through the print clubs of the country’s major cities," (See Woodmere Art Museum).
John M. Butler (11809-1868) was an engraver, copperplate printer, and portrait artist owning one of the largest establishments in Philadelphia. He would join forces with Joseph R. Carpenter in 1863, to form Butler & Carpenter's, the first printer of U.S. Revenue stamps.
The original image, one of two of the Falls, the other being of the American side, was not colored, and was produced in 1845 with no mention of the publisher William Smith, who was also a Philadelphia framemaker and print dealer. The earliest record we could find of Wm. Smith at 702 So. 3rd Street was 1850.
Rare. We could locate no copies of this hand-colored version on OCLC. Of the first issue, uncolored, OCLC locates only one copy, at the American Antiquarian Society. The copy mentioned by Dow at the Grosvenor Library, now resides at the Buffalo & Erie CPL's Rare Book Room. ABPC and Rare Book Hub show no other copies at auction since 1903, at Anderson Galleries (2/9/03: lot 234).