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Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 12,000
(AMERICAN WATERFALLS.) Captain Thomas Davies, after. Group of 5 engraved topographical scenes of North American waterfalls. Heavy laid paper, approximately 17x23 inches each sheet size, wide margins with mostly untrimmed deckle edges; small archival repairs, a few extending into images. London, 1768
Five of Thomas Davies' unquestionably rare "Six Views of North American Waterfalls Dedicated to His Excellency Lieut. General Sir Jeffrey Amherst":
- An East View of the Great Cataract of Niagara. - A North View of the Pisaiack Falls, in the Province of New Jersey in North America. - A North West View of the Cohoes, or Great Cataract of the Mohawk River, in the Province of New York in North America. - A South East View of the Lower Cataract on the Casconchiagon or Little Seneca's River, on Lake Ontario. - A North West View of the Half Moon or Second Fall in the River Cosconchiagon on Lake Ontario. - (presently excluding A South East View of the Great Cataract on the Casconchiagon or Little Seneca's River, on Lake Ontario).
British army officer Thomas Davies was a pioneering artist of colonial North America, honing his skills while surveying (and skirmishing) in the wilderness of the northeast during the French and Indian War. The original watercolors Davies painted to serve as models for these engravings were produced during this period and persist as some of the earliest first-hand visual records of the region's topography taken by a European.
"Views like those produced by Davies are not fanciful studio illustrations of idealized scenery, but renderings of nature observed, the landscape laid down in such a way that is both recognizable and informative… Davies's landscape is not a drawing of a cascade with its fugitive light, bewildering movement, and overpowering noise; it is a drawing of a specimen, a waterfall catalogued and described in an inventory of the falls of Canada" - Victoria Dickinson, Drawn From Life: Science and Art in the Portrayal of the New World, pages 198-199, 201.
While Davies should naturally receive the lion's share of acclaim for his trailblazing presence of time, place, and compositional abilities, major endorsement must be afforded to the skillful engraving of John Fougeron, Peter Mazell, and Thomas Morris, each translating to the plate with such fidelity the subtle nuances of flowing water, rocky strata, dense timber and overall feel for the unspoiled natural phenomenon of these waterfalls.