Nov 12, 2009

St. Anthony Falls from Across the River

St. Anthony Falls from Across the River

c. 1853-54

Daguerreotype, half-plate

Image: 10.8 x 16.5 cm (4 1/4 x 6 1/2 in.); Case: 12 x 15.3 cm (4 3/4 x 6 in.); Matted: 50.8 x 61 cm (20 x 24 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 2002.40



In this image of St. Anthony Falls, the unidentified daguerreotypist made an "instantaneous view" of a remarkable natural wonder, rendering its specific geological formation with exacting clarity. Above a narrow channel where the Mississippi River runs between steep bluffs in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the falls churns away at the bedrock over which it descends. Named by Father Louis Hennepin during his travels in 1680, it is the only significant waterfall on the entire Mississippi River. The specific motivations of the photographer remain unknown. He or she may have wished the photograph to be scientific and documentary, a valuable visual aid for an artist, or just a reminder to a curious resident. No doubt, this daguerreotype was a rare image of the environment's unspoiled condition before the mid 1850s, when demand for an inexpensive energy source irreparably changed this area from a natural to industrial landscape.

See also
Type of artwork: 

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email