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Landfall of Jean Nicolet in Wisconsin (1634)

Edwin Willard Deming (1860-1942)
Oil on canvas

French explorer Jean Nicolet is believed to be the first European to see Wisconsin. He migrated to Canada in 1618 to serve as an interpreter under Samuel de Champlain and spent several years living with the Indian tribes near Lake Huron. In 1634 he embarked on an exploratory trip west past the Straits of Mackinac. Entering Lake Michigan, he followed its northern and western shores to Green Bay. The exact location of Nicolet's landfall in Wisconsin is unknown; there are commemorative markers at Red Banks and at Menasha. Nicolet arranged a peace treaty between the Huron and Ho-Chunk, but his hopes of gaining information about access to the Pacific Ocean necessarily faded.

In 1904 Historical Society President Robert Laird McCormick commissioned this oil painting, in which Edwin Willard Deming, a noted painter of Native Americans, depicts the arrival of Jean Nicolet on Wisconsin soil.

Investigate this painting by clicking on a link below. Each link opens a large image file.

Recreating Historical Record

(JPG, 360KB)

Nicolet's Journey

(JPG, 377KB)

The Image Becomes the Story

(JPG, 373KB)

Stamping the Image into
Public Memory

(JPG, 276KB)

Displayed in the original gallery exhibition with this painting:

Container for Nicolet brand rolled oats
Made for the Frank C. Schilling Company, Green Bay ca. 1920
Courtesy of the Cedarburg Cultural Center

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