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Williams Museum Goes Over Niagara Falls

Williams Museum Goes Over Niagara Falls
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The Williams College Museum of Art has mounted a series of late fall exhibitions that celebrate and provide context for its 1878 William Morris Hunt masterpiece “Niagara Falls,” a symphonic oil of one of America’s iconic landscapes. Hunt (1824-1879) was a Vermont native who became a celebrated Boston portrait and landscape painter.

A Strong Impression: William Morris Hunt’s Niagara (through January 31, 2010) brings Hunt’s monumental painting together with oil, pastel, and charcoal studies as well as rare books, maps, photographs, Niagara Falls souvenirs, and an oil sketch of the falls by Frederic Edwin Church, whose 1857 painting of Niagara inspired his own.

Both Hunt and Church (1826-1900) painted Niagara Falls from its most startling aspect, the top of the broad, smooth horseshoe precipice from which the falls seem to be disappearing into a hole in the earth. The most impressive vantage on most waterfalls is from below, but Niagara Falls is a top down phenomenon, the Niagara River seemingly swallowed rather than spilled.

In William Morris Hunt and the French Tradition (through January 31), WCMA places Hunt’s landscapes in the context of the influence of the naturalistic Barbizon School, painters such as Jean-Fran

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