Richard Wilson after Lt. William Pierie. “View of the Cataract of Niagara.” London: Richard Wilson, 1774. 16 1/2 x 20 5/8. Engraving by William Byrne. With several repaired tears, one extending well into image at left. Title area with tears and some missing surface; expertly repaired. Overall image and impression is very good. Impressions of Niagara: 13.
Lieutenant William Pierie was a British artilleryman who in 1768, while stationed at Fort Niagara, sketched Niagara Falls. The sketch, only the second known drawing of Niagara made on the spot, was sent to London where Richard Wilson, England’s leading landscape artist, painted a large canvas–five foot by six foot–based on it. That image was engraved by William Byrne and published by Wilson in 1774, making it only the second print of Niagara not based on Hennepin’s. Thomas Davies’ 1768 engraving was the first, but the Pierie/Wilson view is a considerably more accurate portrayal. “We may say, in a sense, that Niagara art began with Hennepin; but in its higher sense, it began neither with Hennepin nor Davies, but with Pierie.” (Frank H. Severance, Studies Of The Niagara Frontier, Buffalo, 1911, p. 123)