Alvan Fisher (August 9, 1792 – February 13, 1863) was one of the United States's pioneers in landscape painting and genre works.
He was born in Needham, Massachusetts, the fourth of Aaron and Lucy (Stedman) Fisher's six sons. He moved with members of his family to Dedham, Massachusetts, around 1805 where he worked as a clerk in his brother's store. After that, he always called Dedham his home. At the age of eighteen, he determined, with the support of his family, to become a painter and began an apprenticeship with John Ritto Penniman in Boston, Massachusetts, along with other young artists such as Charles Codman. There he learned portrait painting while assisting Penniman in decorating carriages and painting commercial signs.
In 1815, at the age of twenty-two, he began his professional career, opening a studio on School Street in Boston. During his first ten years as a painter, he set the tone of his entire career. He traveled extensively painting landscapes, rural scenes, portraits of animals, and portraits of people. The growing popularity of landscape and genre painting coincided with the growing population of the United States and an economically improved middle class. This was the age of democracy and people wanted art that depicted their own contemporary life. In his book, Mirror to the American Past: A Survey of American Genre Painting, 1750-1900, Herman Warner Williams, Jr., wrote, "As our first native-born painter to specialize in genre subjects and to engage a wide audience for them, Alvan Fisher is entitled to more than the slight notice that has been given him ... Only the canny Alvan Fisher was successful in turning a profit from the new themes in his paintings." A General View of the Falls of Niagara (1820) Providence from Across the Cove (1818)Fisher traveled throughout the northeastern United States searching out sites of landscape beauty such as the views of Springfield, Hartford, and Providence and the spectacular scenery of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He sketched outdoors and began to compose pastoral scenes in his studio before Thomas Cole, Thomas Doughty, Asher B. Durand, or others of the Hudson River School gave serious attention to nature. The Watering Place, 1816, now in the collection of Fruitlands Museum, Harvard, Massachusetts, is his earliest extant pure landscape. His paintings of Niagara Falls were completed following his visit there in 1820.