Artwork by William James Bennett,  Views of Niagara Falls

Wiliam Bennett
Views of Niagara Falls

four handcoloured aquatints
– "View of the British Fall Taken from Goat Island" – inscribed "painted and engraved by W.J.Bennett" in the lower margin (plate size 16.25 ins x 20.75 ins);
– "Part of the British Fall Taken from Under the Table Rock" – inscribed "painted by W.J. Bennett and engraved by J. Hill" in the lower margin (plate size 20.75 ins x 16.75 ins);
– "Part of the American Fall from the Foot of the Staircase" – inscribed "painted by W.J. Bennett and engraved by J. Hill" in the lower margin (plate size 20.75 x 16.75);
– "View of the American Fall Taken from Goat Island" – inscribed "painted and engraved by W.J. Bennett" in the lower margin (plate size 16 ins x 20.75 ins); each published by H.J. Megarey, New York [1829–31]

18.5 x 21.5 ins ( 47 x 54.6 cms ) ( each (sight) )

Auction Estimate: $20,000.00$15,000.00 - $20,000.00

Price Realized $14,400.00
Sale date: December 6th 2023

“The Winkworth Collection: A Treasure House of Canadiana in London”, Christie's, auction, London, 1 April 2015, lot 132
The Collection of Joe and Anita Robertson, Niagara-on-the-Lake
J. Russell Harper, “Early Painters and Engravers in Canada”, Toronto, 1970, page 28
"Niagara Falls. Part of the American Fall, from the Foot of the Staircase: Study for an Aquatint–William James Bennett Biography", National Gallery of Art,
A British born artist who emigrated to the United States in the early nineteenth century, William James Bennett has been described as one of the most respected landscape artists in the topographical tradition. Bennett was a member of the Royal Academy of Art in London, a founding member of the Association of Artists in Water–Colours, and from 1830–1840 named “Keeper” of the Academy of Design. In addition to his undoubtable skill as a watercolourist, Bennett was also a master of aquatint, and sought after as an engraver and illustrator. These four “admirable and splendid views” of Niagara Falls are aquatint engravings after watercolours by the artist and Bennett’s contemporary, John Hill (1770–1850). Advances in transportation during this period transformed Niagara from “a remote icon to a fashionable resort”. The New York Historical Society describes Bennett’s work as capturing the majesty and grandeur of Niagara Falls as well as the “awesome size and power of the sublime cascade”.

This artwork has been consigned from the Collection of Joe and Anita Robertson. The artwork from the collection (Lots 43-47 in this auction) is being offered in memory of Joe, Anita and Laura Robertson. Each work of art was carefully chosen by the Robertson family and hung in their welcoming home.

Joe and Anita Robertson were prominent Niagara Peninsula businesspeople, both born to large, closely knit families. They met as teenagers while working at a McDonald’s in Bells Corners, Nepean and married in 1986, raising three children, Taylor, Clark and Laura.

Joe and Anita were lifelong best friends and business partners. They excelled in their careers, purchasing a small dental supply company in St. Catharines, Ontario to grow it under the name of Arcona Health Incorporated. They would sell the company with Joe becoming the CEO and Chair of the Board of Directors of the parent company’s Canadian subsidiary, Henry Schein Arcona Inc.

Laura Robertson, the family’s youngest child, grew up in St. Catharines before moving to Vancouver to earn her Bachelor’s of Kinesiology from the University of British Columbia in 2017. Laura had begun working in Brock University’s Kinesiology Department as a Facilities Coordinator at the time of her passing. She was an active volunteer at Red Roof Retreat and was proud to serve Niagara-on-the-Lake as a volunteer firefighter. Laura had a lifelong passion for the arts and was a skilled illustrator and oil painter.

Joe and Anita Robertson were philanthropically active in their Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catharines communities, making major financial contributions to the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre to build a multipurpose theatre, the Niagara Health Foundation to support the construction of the hospital and the Niagara-on-the-Lake nursery, as well as many other causes.

Besides being active volunteers, they also individually played pivotal roles supporting the St. Catharines & District United Way, the Council of Chairs of Ontario Universities, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, Music Cares, Bravo Niagara and the Brock Performing Arts Centre. Joe also served on the board of Brock University for over a decade, and between 2012 and 2014 was Chair of their Board of Governors.

As such strong supporters and active participants of arts and culture, it is not surprising that the artwork they collected reflected their passion for art.

Cowley Abbott is proud to donate a portion of our commission from the sale of the family’s artwork to the United Way Niagara in memory of Joe, Anita and Laura Robertson and on behalf of their surviving children, Clark and Taylor.

Additional artwork from The Collection of Joe and Anita Robertson will be featured in a Cowley Abbott online auction, which will be open for bidding from November 28th to December 12th. We extend our thanks to Brett Sherlock Advisory for their active and important role in advising the Robertson family.

Share this item with your friends

William James Bennett
(1787 - 1844)