Church's large canvas captures magnificently the drama of Niagara Falls, one of his country's most famous landmarks. This painting, based on a drawing Church made at Niagra in July 1856 and on a sepia photograph touched with colour, was commissioned by the New York art dealer Michael Knoedler in 1866. It may originally have been destined for the Universal Exhibition in Paris, as Church was selected to represent America there. It was bought in 1887 by John S. Kennedy who presented it to his native Scotland. It is the only major example of Church's work in a European public collection.