How This Accidental Photo Went On to Become a Minnesota Classic
It’s a classic painting you’ve probably seen many times, maybe in your parents' or grandparents’ homes. It's from here in Minnesota, but how it came to be wasn't actually planned.
Growing up in Wisconsin, this same picture, which is titled ‘Grace,' was proudly hanging in my grandparents' kitchen, as it was in many homes here in Minnesota too. It's so famous, it was named Minnesota's official state photograph back in 2002. But how it came to be was kind of an accident.
According to the website MNopedia, 'a resource for reliable information about significant people, places, events, and things in Minnesota history,' the picture was taken by Minnesota photographer Eric Enstrom in the northern Minnesota town of Bovey (near Duluth, a little over 4 hours northwest of Rochester) back in 1920.
The man in the picture is Charles Wilden, a traveling salesman who happened to stop by Enstrom's studio one day. While he stopped by to sell Enstrom something, MNopedia says Enstrom was so struck by Wilden's appearance, he asked him to pose for a picture on the spot, using a few items Enstrom's wife had prepared for lunch. The rest, as they say, is history.
MNopedia notes that Enstrom then began selling the picture (which was originally a black and white photo), and after it became popular, then painted over the original photo so ended up looking more like the oil painting version we still see today. His daughter then sold it to a publishing house in Minneapolis, which ended up selling over 20,000 copies of the painting in the 50s and 60s.
That's why it found its way to countless kitchens and dining rooms of grandparents everywhere across Minnesota and Wisconsin. And across the country too. MNopedia noted that the classic picture has also been shown in the wheelhouse of the Alaska fishing vessel Northwestern on the Discovery show 'Deadliest Catch.'
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