Investigating the Painted Past
'Landfall of Jean Nicolet in Wisconsin'
Painted by Edwin Willard Deming (1860-1942).
Oil on canvas, 1904.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object #1942.487.
Landfall of Jean Nicolet in Wisconsin
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.
This painting depicts the landfall of Jean Nicolet in Wisconsin in 1634. Nicolet was travelling from the east (near Lake Huron), hoping to access the Pacific Ocean. His travels took him through the Straits of Mackinac and along the northern and western shores of Lake Michigan to Green Bay. The exact location of Nicolet's landfall 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 an image below.