Portrait of Ole Bull (1810-1880)
James Reeve Stuart (1834-1915)
Oil on canvas
Ole Borneman Bull was a successful concert violinist in Europe before he visited the United States in 1843. Bull returned to America in 1852 and made his first concert appearance in Wisconsin a year later. For a number of years he gave concerts throughout the country. In 1868 he returned to Wisconsin and met Sara Thorp of Madison. They married two years later and for several years the Bulls resided in Madison in a Thorp family mansion. During this period, Bull became a popular symbol of Norwegian culture. He associated himself with a group of devotees of Scandinavian culture that greatly influenced the development of the University of Wisconsin's Scandinavian department and made Madison a center for the study of Norse culture. Ill in health and worn out from frequent appearances, Bull returned to Norway with his wife in 1880 and died a few months later. Today, Ole Bull is a Norwegian folk hero and his home in Norway is a popular museum.
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