View on the Mississippi River, 1857
The verdant bluffs and clear skies of Minnesota Territory greeted travelers steaming up the Mississippi River with the Grand Excursion of 1854. This promotional Rock Island-to-St. Paul junket introduced capitalists, journalists, and the nation to the splendors of the region. Ferdinand Reichardt's 1857 oil on canvas captures the idyllic environment. Also known as Steamboats on the Mississippi, collections MNHS.
- Format: Poster Reproduction from Oil on Canvas, 22 in x 28 in
A placid stretch of the Upper Mississippi near Lake Pepin is the setting for this romantic painting of the "fashionable tour" on the Mississippi. In the mid-nineteenth century steamboats cruised the river carrying sightseers from various ports along the banks--sometimes as far away as New Orleans--to the Falls of St. Anthony in what is now Minneapolis. By the late 1850s the fashionable tour was well established and with the completion in 1854 of rail lines between Chicago and Rock Island, Illinois, the great river attracted an impressive array of travelers, including former President Millard Fillmore and writer Henry David Thoreau. While the railroad made the river more easily accessible, artists like Reichardt played a significant role in promoting it as a tourist attraction.
Ferdinand Reichardt(1819-1895) was a Danish-born landscape artist especially noted for his paintings of Niagara Falls. The romance of the Mississippi River, however, seems to have captured his imagination, presumably when he traveled through Minnesota in the 1850s. In his New York City studio Reichardt created several evocative scenes of life along the river such as St. Anthony Falls (also painted in 1857 and in the MHS Collections) and View on the Mississippi River. Another, similar rendition of the fashionable tour, executed in 1858, is in the collections of the White House. All are probably based on sketches and material gathered from his visit to the Mississippi Valley, and all are rich in fine detail.