Saturday, July 10, 2010

Historic Paddle Illustration - Minnehaha Feeding Birds

The artwork of Frances Anne Hopkins mostly features scenes with Voyageurs that serve as a wonderful ethnographic record of this era. Another painting of hers reflecting a more fictitious scene is "Minnehaha Feeding Birds". It features an Indian Maiden with an extended hand trying to entice the birds that have serenely perched on the gunwales of her birchbark canoe.

Minnehaha Feeding Birds
Frances Anne Hopkins
ca. 1880

A red bladed paddle is resting across the top of the canoe and seems very similar to the brightly colored paddles of the Voyageurs to which she was much more acquainted. The scale and dimensions of the paddle also seem quite narrow. I wonder if she simply used her knowledge of actual paddles around her in this conjured scene or if she truly came across natives using painted paddles in her journeys.

Paddle Closeup

For a similar theme, check out David Wright's painting "Quiet Reflections" featured a while back which also shows a red bladed paddle being used by an Indian in a bark canoe.

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