|SV: the great BLONDIN crossing Niagara River, 1859.
A stereoview showing Blondin crossing Niagara River on a tightrope on 30 June 1859. Extensive information relating to the feat is printed on the reverse.
Jean Francois Gravelet (1824-1897), the great Blondin, was the first of many tightrope walkers to appear at Niagara Falls. He was a professional artist and showman trained in the great tradition of the European circus.
Blondin first crossed the gorge on 30 June, 1859 at a point a mile and a quarter below the Falls. Never one merely to repeat his last performance, Blondin made performed various stunts during subsequent crossings, including crossing his rope on a bicycle, on stilts, with his hands and feet manacled, walking blindfold, pushing a wheelbarrow, performing back-flips, and cooking an omelette halfway across.
One of his most hair-raising stunts was when he crossed with his manager Harry Colcord on his back. According to Colcord, the trip was a nightmare. In the unguyed centre section, the pair started to sway violently. Blondin broke into a desperate run to reach the first guy rope. When he reached it and steadied himself, the guy broke. Once more the pair swayed alarmingly as Blondin again ran for the next guy. When they reached it Blondin gasped for Colcord to get down. Six times in all Colcord had to dismount while Blondin struggled to gather his strength. In the end Blondin had to charge the crowd on the brink to prevent the press of people forcing them back in the precipice.
Blondin died in England at the age of 73, and was buried next to his wife in Kensal Green cemetery, where their handsome tomb stills stands.
The left-hand print shows a small amount of discolouration towards its right-hand edge, but other than that, the prints are both in excellent condition. The mount is reasonably clean, but the top layer of paper is just starting to split away from the lower layers at one point along the top edge. The corners are fairly sharp.
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