Painter who colorized “Grace” was from the Iron Range

I’m sure I’ve seen this picture dozens of times  – in people’s homes, in Christian gift shops, on web sites.  I always assumed that it was from some other part of the country – just because northern Minnesota is pretty far removed from the usual commercial networks.

But I was wrong. Today’s Duluth News Tribune reported the death of Rhoda Nyberg, daughter of photographer Eric Enstrom, of the small mining town of Bovey, Minnesota.  I always thought that “Grace” was a painting, but it is, in fact, a painted photograph.  A little digging reveals the story: Eric invited a traveling peddlar to dinner, and asked him to pose for a photograph – arranging a Bible, a bowl of gruel and some bread.  Eric said “he seemed to take the pose naturally.”

Eric knew he had something special in the 1918 photo, and took it to some photography exhibits.  He was able to sell many prints of it by framing them and putting them in his front window.  His daughter Rhoda, who studied fashion and painting, began to paint – to colorize – her father’s black-and-white photographs.  She painted “Grace” and added a window with light streaming in – and it became a hit.

Rhoda died this week at the age of 95 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, not far from her hometown of Bovey. And so it’s only now – with the stories of her death – that I discover that this picture is one more of the spiritual gifts of the Northland.

Enhanced by Zemanta

One comment

  1. Love this picture. My family is Lutheran (I converted to Catholicism in 1998) and we this hanging on our dining room wall. Now, I have one on my dining room wall.

    BTW…that is the Official State Photo of Minnesota.

Comments are welcome and moderated

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.