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Framed! Investigating the Painted Past

Online Edition of the Gallery Exhibition at the Wisconsin Historical Museum
August 15, 2003-July 24, 2004

“A speaking portrait will often live in the remembrance of the people, and serve to retain the memory of early pioneers, far more than any written description of themselves, their lives and their labors.”
Steven H. Carpenter, Wisconsin Historical Society curator, 1859

A view of the painting gallery just
after the Historical Society's new
building opened in 1901.
Whi (X22) 600

Paintings can say a lot.

To the historian, paintings provide clues about the activities, attitudes, ideas, interests, prejudices, and status of the people who made and used them. The Wisconsin Historical Society recognized the importance of visual works of art as documents of history and began to commission and collect paintings in 1854.

Today, the Society maintains a significant painting collection that is rich with historical evidence. But just what kinds of evidence do paintings offer? How do we make sense of the information they provide? How do we frame them within their historical context? Join the investigation and discover the stories behind the canvas.

Select a painting from the following list to see an in-depth interpretation. Or, find out more about the entire painting collection.

Ellen Clarinda Martin Kneeland
by Randall Palmer, 1843

by Samuel Marsden Brookes, 1858

Logging Scene
by Carl Arneson, before 1957

Sioux Chiefs
by Mark Robert Harrison, 1879

Landfall of Jean Nicolet in Wisconsin
by Edwin Willard Deming, 1904

Pecatonica Battleground
by Samuel Marsden Brookes and
Thomas H. Stevenson, 1857

James Lockwood by Samuel
Marsden Brookes and Thomas H.
Stevenson, 1856

Nellie Jane Manning
by Abram Ross Stanley,

Peshtigo Fire I: Refuge In A Field
by Mel Kishner 1968

Trabajando En El Campo
by Seferina Contreras Klinger, 1999

Ole Bull
by James Reeve Stuart, 1890

Vinnie Ream
by George C. Bingham, 1876

Austin Quinney
by Amos C. Hamlin, Jr., 1849

Florantha Thompson Sproat
by Cephas Thompson, 1838

Morgan L. Martin
by Samuel Marsden Brookes and
Thomas H. Stevenson, 1856

House Party
by Lavern Kammerude, 1988
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