A View Showing the American Falls, Luna Island, the Bridal Veil, Goat Island and The Horseshoe Falls, looking from Prospect Point
by Maj. Charles Frederick Gibson
TAG Art Gallery is pleased to present the first public viewing ever in Niagara of9 original and historically-significant illustrations of Niagara Falls by Maj. Charles Frederick Gibson (1808-1868), a British army officer. They were done in 1833, very near the end of his first stay in Canada.
When you visit the Gallery, you will see rare scenes which are unique in the existing canon of Niagara works of that era. For example, on display are 5 ‘studies’ of Table Rock at the Canadian edge of the Horseshoe Falls. Each depiction of the rock-outcropping is distinctly different from the others. (It would appear that one of them is more realistic, in that it resembles Table Rock drawings done by other artists of the time.)
The mixed-media pieces are rendered in watercolour, coloured chalk, pencil, pen-and-ink, and sepia wash. The artist also used the technique of ‘scratching out’ to create certain tones and shades. (The illustration above is done with “charcoal, coloured chalks and watercolour with scratching out, on paper watermarked ‘J WHATMAN/TURKEY MILL/1823’ “.)
Gibson was known as a career military officer ‘with a passion for art’. One arts commentator, writing in the Queen’s Journal (Kingston), described Gibson, the artist, as being accurately observant of the ‘picturesque panoramas’ which he encountered in Canada. One identifying characteristic of his work is his use of “a delicate medium and subtle colours” to create scenes of a soft beauty.
Gibson, a junior infantry officer, served at various stations in Upper- and Lower Canada from 1827 to the end of 1833. From 1841 to 1845, he was Aide-de-Camp to General Jeremiah Dickson, commander of all British forces in Nova Scotia. Throughout his military career, he produced a large number of sketches, watercolours and mixed-media works.
The Gibson illustrations were recently added to the Gallery’s widely-recognized collection of Historical Prints of Niagara. This exhibit is a wonderful opportunity to view a rare piece of your Niagara history. TAG Art Gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.