POWNALL, Thomas (1722-1805)
A View of the Great Cohoes Falls, on the Mohawk River; The Fall about Seventy feet, the River near a Quarter of a Mile broad ... Vue de la Grande Cataracte de Cohoes, sur la Riviere des Mohawks. La Hateur est l'environ 70 pieds; sa Riviere a pres l'un quart de Mille de large ... Sketch'd on the Spot by his Excellency Governor Pownal. Painted by Paul Sandby, & Engraved by Wm. Elliot
London: John Bowles, Robert Sayer, Thos. Jefferys, Carington Bowles and Henry Parker, [circa 1768]. Copper engraving by Elliot after Pownall and Sandby. Image size (including text): 12 1/2 x 19 3/4 inches. Sheet size: 16 x 22 7/8 inches.
'Through this land runs an excellent river...When we saw not only the river falling with such a noise that we could hardly hear one another, but the water boiling and dashing with such force in still weather, that it was all the time as it were raining...I saw there in clear sunshine when there was not a cloud in the sky.. in a great abyss the half of a rainbow...of the same color with rainbow in the sky. ' (Reverend Johannes Megapolensis, 1642)
The falls mark the place where the Mohawk River falls about 170 feet and joins the Hudson River. The city of Cohoes, whose industry was built up using the power of the river, is built on its banks, but Pownall in his drawing wished to demonstrate the sheer wonder and power of the river. The falls thunder through rocks, trees and cliffs that seem to be unable to withstand the onslaught. Little human figures in the foreground on a twisted tree, one perhaps the artist sketching, provide a scale of both size and significance. This fine print from the famously rare Scenographia Americana series is after a drawing by Thomas Pownal, colonial governor of Massachusetts. "Pownall held liberal views on the connection of England with its colonies, and was a staunch friend to the American provinces. He explained his sentiments in his famous work on The Administration of the Colonies, 1764, stating that his object was to fuse all these Atlantic and American possessions into one Dominion, of which Great Britain should be the commercial center, to which it should be the spring of power. The loyalty of the colonies was in his opinion undoubted; but the settlers insisted that they should not be taxed without their own consent or that of their representatives. The true principles of commerce between Great Britain and her colonies were that they should import from Britain only, and send all their supplies to it; but he urged that to carry out the intention of the Act of Navigation, and to give the colonies proper facilities for trading, British markets should be established even in other countries. In an appendix containing a memorial dated in 1756, and addressed to the Duke of Cumberland, he dwells on the wondrous means of intercommunication possessed by America through its noble rivers" (DNB).