Throughout the nineteenth century, few landscape forms were more immediately recognizable as American than Niagara Falls. The image of Niagara was often employed in art and literature to embody the natural might that underlay the nation's promise and destined greatness. A southern-born artist, Louis Rémy Mignot painted this view Niagara after he had moved to London during the Civil War. Before leaving the United States in 1862, he had sketched at Niagara Falls, perhaps with the idea of exhibiting an ambitious canvas before an English audience.
In this large panorama, Mignot's acknowledged masterpiece, the view is taken from the American side of the great Horseshoe Falls, facing the Canadian shore. The artist dispensed with the traditional framing devices typical of landscape imagery, forcing the viewer close to the precipice to experience the massive currents of foaming water rushing over the cataract's edge in the fading lavender light of sunset.