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 Edward Kirkbride Thomas  (1817 - 1906)

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Lived/Active: Michigan/Minnesota      Known for: historical scene, Old Master copies and Indian portrait painting

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Scotsman with two dogs with cottage and lake in background
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
From Philadelphia, Edward Thomas, an obscure soldier and likely self-taught artist, was in Minnesota Territory in the early 1850s. There he "built up a cottage industry painting views of Fort Snelling, which he did while stationed there and sold as prizes of lotteries advertised in the local press." Fort Snelling was built in the 1920s at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers was of special significance because it mitigated tensions among warring Chippewa, Sioux and other tribes; protected American explorers and settlers and also eased fur trading expeditions.

Thomas was promoted by James M. Goodhue, founder of the Minnesota Pioneer, which was the territory's first newspaper. In the March 13, 1850 issue, Goodhue wrote that "there is at Fort Snelling a painter of rare merit...We have now before us one of Sergeant Thomas' landscapes...the view of Fort Snelling. We see nothing in it to criticize, unless perhaps that the masonry of the fort lacks that depth of coloring which belongs to massiveness. . . .There are but few scenes in our new country to remind us of the massive grandeur of European architecture, and this of Fort Snelling, perhaps approaches as near to it as any other."

He would identify himself as 'Sergeant Thomas of Fort Snelling' and in addition did portraits of Sioux Indians including the warrior Wah-ah-cor-dah and the Indian squaw, We-no-na, whom he described as "the most renowned of the Dakota Belles." He advertised other works of "art" including copies of Old Master paintings such as Leonardo DaVinci's Last Supper, which he raffled for 35 chances per dollar on July 6, 1850.

Several of Thomas' Fort Snelling paintings survive, and are in the collections of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota Historical Society and Sibley House in Mendota. They are oil on canvas, and likely produced as souvenirs of Minnesota Territory so that visitors could be reminded of the experience and of the realistic images of the area, many which remain today.

Rena Neumann Coen, "Edward K. Thomas, Fort Snelling Artist", Minnesota History Magazine, Fall, 1969, pp. 317-318.

Rena Neuman Coen, excerpts from Minnesota Art and Artists: A Pictorial History, 1820-1914, pp. 3-4

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Edward Kirkbride Thomas (1817-1906)

Edward Kirkbride Thomas was born in Philadelphia in 1817. His family had a very strong military tradition; his grandfather was a colonel in the Revolutionary War and his cousin was a General in the Civil War.

Thomas enlisted in the Army and fought in the war against the Seminole Indians in Florida and traveled throughout the United States as both a civilian and soldier. He settled in Detroit, Michigan and died in 1906.

He painted many scenes of Fort Snelling in Minnesota and as well as portrait paintings. It is unknown if Thomas had formal artistic training, but he undoubtedly had considerable talent.

Edward Kirkbride Thomas (1817-1906), Hiro Fine Art, //


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