Alexander Wilson view of Niagara Falls 1810


John James Barralet after sketch by Alexander Wilson.  “General view of the Falls of Niagara.”  From The Port Folio.  Vol. III; No. 3.  Philadelphia: Bradford & Inskeep, and New York: Inskeep & Bradford, March 1810.  4 1/2 x 7 3/8.  Engraving by George Cooke.  Very good condition.  Impressions of Niagara: 42.

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The Port Folio was a new type of American magazine, “Devoted to Useful Science, the Liberal Arts, Legitimate Criticism, and Polite Literature.”   It was a product of the new century, appearing first in January 1801.  It began as a weekly issue until 1809, when it became monthly until its demise at the end of 1827.  As with the many magazines that followed it, The Port Folio included numerous illustrations, including this view by Alexander Wilson.  Wilson (1766-1813) is best known as the `father of American ornithology,’ but he was also a poet and landscape artist.  In 1804, Wilson and two companions traveled through the American backwoods on a grand excursion to Niagara Falls.  This trip was celebrated in Wilson’s paean to American nature, “The Foresters: a poem, descriptive of a journey to the Falls of Niagara in the autumn of 1804,” which appeared in the Port Folio from June 1809 through March 1810.  This poem was accompanied by engravings after Wilson showing scenes and events from the trip, including two views of Niagara Falls.