Fort Snelling in 1844
John Casper Wild painted Fort Snelling in 1844 during a trip to Minnesota "to improve his health" and "to make some sketches of scenery."
Paper size 28 x 22 in., image size 22 x 14 in.
At the time he painted, Fort Snelling was in its glory. The post, established in 1819 at the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, is a significant landmark in the history of Minnesota and the Northwest. It effectively extended the authority of the United States government over the region and paved the way for white settlement. Wild shows Henry H. Sibley's house in the foreground and the buildings of the Indian agency behind the fort.
Little is known about the artist. Born in Zurich, Switzerland, about 1804, Wild was a painter and lithographer who immigrated to the United States after spending a number of years in Paris. His life in the U.S. probably began in Philadelphia in 1831 when he published four panoramic views of that city. Later he moved to Cincinnati and then to Saint Louis. He died two years after he painted this view of Fort Snelling.
Acquired by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1950, the painting was "discovered" by Boyden Sparkes of Wrightsville Sound, North Carolina, and New York City. It had been in his family for fifty years but had never been identified because Wild's signature was hidden under the frame.