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View on the Upper Mississippi

John Frederick Kensett, American, 1816–1872
Oil on canvas
Made in
United States, North and Central America
Minnesota, United States, North and Central America
Current Location
On View, Gallery 336
18 1/2 x 30 in. (47 x 76.2 cm)
framed: 27 3/16 x 39 x 3 in. (69.1 x 99.1 x 7.6 cm)
Credit Line
Eliza McMillan Trust
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Object Number
An expanse of glassy, unruffled water and silvery evening light evoke a seemingly impenetrable stillness. While a group of Native Americans push their canoes off a sandy spit of land, they are dwarfed by the massive scale of the outcropping behind them. Their movements carry no sound, and only the birds in the foreground appear capable of breaking the silence. This landscape depicts Lake Pepin, located along the widest part of the Mississippi River at a point that is now south of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The artist, John Frederick Kensett, made sketches of the site when he accompanied St. Louis businessman Pierre Chouteau Jr. on one of his trading expeditions.
1855 - 1860
Charles M. Leupp (1807-1859), New York, purchased from the artist [1]

1860/11/13 -
Jessup Collection, purchased from the sale of the late Charles M. Leupp, E. H. Ludlow and Company, New York, November 13, 1860 [2]

by 1938 -
George Clausen [3]

by 1940 - still in 1941
M. Knoedler & Co., New York, NY [4]

Vose Galleries, Boston, MA [5]

by 1949 - 1950
Mrs. Lucius D. Potter, Greenfield, MA, purchased from Vose Galleries [6]

1950 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Mrs. Lucius D. Potter [7]

[1] According to Kensett's account book, the painting was sold by Kensett in 1855 to a Chas. M. Leupp [copy of Kensett's account book for 1855/1856, SLAM document files]. Charles M. Leupp was a collector of American art, whose collection was considered one of the best in New York in 1856 [Callow, James T. "American art in the collection of Charles M. Leupp." "The Magazine Antiques" CXVIII, 5 (November 1980)].

[2] An annotated copy of the sale catalogue of the Leupp collection indicates that the painting was sold to a Mr. Jessup [Callow, p. 1008; "Catalogue of Valuable Paintings, &c., of the Late Chas. M. Leupp, to Be Sold at Auction (on November 13, 1860)," E. H. Ludlow and Company, New York]. A faded label from the reverse of the painting bears the title of the painting, and the letters "Je...p" of the owner's name is identifiable [label, SLAM document files].

[3] The painting was lent to the Minneapolis Art Institute by George Clausen in January 1938 [label removed from back of painting, SLAM document files].

[4] M. Knoedler & Co. lent the painting to the exhibition "A Souvenir of Romanticism in America" at the Baltimore Museum of Art ["A Souvenir of Romanticism in America." Baltimore, MD: Baltimore Museum of Art, May 10, 1940-June 10, 1940]. In 1941, it was lent to an exhibition at the Davenport Municipal Gallery, courtesy of M. Knoedler & Co. ["Second Exhibition of Art and Artists along the Mississippi." Davenport, IA: Davenport Municipal Gallery, April 3 - 30, 1941, cat. 65].

[5] The painting once had a Vose Gallery label on its reverse [label removed from back of painting, SLAM document files]. On the loan form for the 1949 City Art Museum of St. Louis exhibition "Mississippi Panorama," Mrs. Lucius D. Potter indicated that she had purchased the painting from Vose Galleries [SLAM document files].

[6] See note [5].

[7] Per invoice from Mrs. Lucius D. Potter dated February 24, 1950 [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control, February 2, 1950.
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