Wisconsin Historical Society logo.What's new about this site?

Wisconsin Historical Museum Online Collections

Back to Previous Page

History painting: Marquette and Joliet Exploring the Upper Mississippi, by Frank H. Zeitler, 1921

Object ID 1982.448.1
AAT Object Term history painting , oil painting
Materials/Medium oil paint , canvas
Object History "Marquette, Jacques (June 1, 1637-May 18, 1675), Jesuit missionary, priest, explorer, b. Laon, France. He was educated at the Jesuit college in Reims, he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus, Nancy (1654). Ordained a priest at Toul in 1666, he arrived in Quebec the same year, and, after studying the Indian languages, founded the mission of St. Mary of the Sault (Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.) in 1668. In 1669 he moved to the mission of the Holy Ghost (Ashland, Wis.), and in 1670 followed the Huron Indians to the present site of St. Ignace, Mich., where he founded the mission of St. Ignatius. There, in 1672 Louis Jolliet brought news that Father Marquette was to take part in the exploration of the Mississippi River. The two men with five French companions left the mission on May 17, 1673, and via Green Bay ascended the Fox River, transferred to the Wisconsin at the present site of Portage, and reached the Mississippi on June 17, 1673, the first Europeans to cross what would become the state of Wisconsin. The party continued to follow the Mississippi southward until July 17, 1673, when they turned back near the present site of Arkansas City, Ark. Returning via the Illinois River, the Des Plaines-Chicago portage, and Lake Michigan to Green Bay, Father Marquette went to St. Francis mission (De Pere, Wis.), where he remained from Sept., 1673, to Oct., 1674. In 1674 he set out to found the mission of the Conception among the Illinois Indians. He wintered at the present site of Chicago, and in 1675 founded the mission at the Kaskaskia village (Utica, Ill.). Illness forced him to leave in a few days, and he followed the east shore of Lake Michigan to the present site of Ludington, Mich., where he died. In 1677 Indians returned his bones to the mission chapel at St. Ignace. In 1887 Father Marquette was chosen as one of the two Wisconsinites to represent the state in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol." (State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography, 1960, p. 239-240.)

"Jolliet, Louis (ca. Sept. 21, 1645-Summer, 1700), trader, explorer, cartographer, b. Beauport, near Quebec, Canada. He was educated at the Jesuit college, Quebec, received minor orders in 1662, but later decided not to enter the priesthood. In 1669, in partnership with his brother Adrian and others, he left Montreal for a trading expedition to Sault Ste. Marie where he remained until 1671. Returning to Quebec, in 1672 Jolliet was appointed by the Intendant of New France to seek a route to the Pacific by way of the Mississippi River. The trip was sanctioned by Governor Frontenac, who granted the privilege of fur trade rights to defray the expenses of the exploration. In Dec., 1672, Jolliet arrived at St. Ignatius mission (St. Ignace, Mich.) with an appointment for Father Marquette to accompany him. On May 17, 1673, with the Jesuit priest and five Frenchmen, he left the mission and by way of Green Bay and the Fox and Wisconsin rivers entered the Mississippi on June 17. The party followed the river southward to about the present site of arkansas City, Ark., where they turned back on July 17, convinced that the great river led to the Gulf of Mexico. Returning by way of the Illinois River, Jolliet recognized the possibility of a canal from the des Plainesto the Chicago River. Again in Quebec, 1674, he sent a map drawn from memory and a report announcing his discovery to Colbert. In 1677 his petition to found a settlement in the Illinois country was denied by Louis XIV, and thereafter he devoted himself to opening fisheries and the fur trade along the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. He acquired Mingan Islands in 1679, and in 1680 received the fief of Anticosti Island as a reward for his various discoveries. In 1694 he explored the coast of Labrador, and in the winter of 1695-1696, as pilot of the ship 'Clarente,' returned to France where he received an appointment as royal hydrographer, an office that he held until his death. No record has been found of the cause of his death or place of burial." (State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography, 1960, p. 193.)

Frank H. Zeitler made this painting in 1921. He was born in Germany in 1874 and died in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 30, 1940. His obituary, which appeared in the Milwaukee Journal, 7/31/1940, noted that his religious paintings (including murals) and sculptures were in churches in many parts of the world. His work could be seen in St. Francis and St. Joseph's Churches and at Holy Cross Church and Calvary Cemetery, Milwaukee. On October 31, 1982, the State Historical Society purchased this painting by Zeitler from Bill Marshall of Bagley, Wisconsin.

Date Type Date Range Early Date Late Date
Date of Subject
Increase Text Size Return to Normal Text Size