Middleton Niagara Falls


After Robert Hancock.  “The great Cataract or Waterfall, of Niagara in North America.”  From C.T. Middleton’s A New and Complete System of Geography.  London: J. Cooke, 1778-79.  6 3/8 x 10 1/2.  Engraving.  Impressions of Niagara: 15.



An excellent, early image of Niagara Falls.  About 1775, Robert Hancock drew an image of Niagara based on Father Louis Hennepin’s first print of the Falls.  Niagara was one of the great wonders of the world, perhaps the most well-known site in North America.  Thus geographies, like Middleton’s, would often include engravings of the scene, all ultimately based in the Hennepin engraving.  A group of onlookers stands at the left, including two priests and a Native American, while a line of Indians is shown carrying heavy sacks down the escarpment on the right.  Prints like this imprinted this image of Niagara in the minds of readers in Europe and America in the late eighteenth century.