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Highlights Archives

Pencil Sketches Depict Images of 1852 Wisconsin

Pencil drawing of Burr Oaks in the oak savanna setting, Madison, WI, 1852
WHI 31186

A compelling collection of 16 pencil sketches depicting the early settlement landscape of southern Wisconsin constitutes the latest online photo gallery in Wisconsin Historical Images. The sketches are the work of German-born artist Adolf Hoeffler, who painted, drew and etched German, Italian and American landscapes. He made these detailed and lovely sketches in 1852. They provide a glimpse of the southern Wisconsin oak savanna that was then the most common landscape but today is nearly nonexistent due to human settlement, agriculture and fire suppression.

Detailed Vistas of Familiar Southern Wisconsin Places

Depictions in the drawings include Madison, the Milwaukee harbor, Arena, Cross Plains, Lake Kegonsa, Giles Court House, and Spirit (or Devil's) Lake. There are also depictions of the Mississippi River and Fort Snelling, Minnesota. The detailed pencil drawings usually show a sweeping expanse of landscape with the human-built environment diminutively enfolded within it but they also include closer studies of oak trees in the savanna setting. These vivid and compelling landscapes invite the viewer to imagine stepping into the majestic scenery of the past.

:: Posted August 25, 2011

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