Itasca Lake, Source of the Mississippi, 1575 Feet above the Gulf of Mexico, 1849-1855

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Minnesota schoolchildren know Henry Rowe Schoolcraft as the explorer who in 1832 confirmed the source of the Mississippi River, and named it Lake Itasca. They also know that Itasca derives from the Latin for “truth” and “head”: veritas and caput. They also can thank Schoolcraft for finding our first state park, which the spot became in 1891. This watercolor, based on a Schoolcraft sketch, depicts the moment after his expedition arrived.

One of 35 works on paper by Seth Eastman in Mia’s collection, the painting was the basis for an illustration in Schoolcraft’s massive "Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States" (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1851-57).

Itasca Lake, Source of the Mississippi, 1575 Feet above the Gulf of Mexico
Artist Life
Accession Number
James J. Hill (St. Paul, 1838-1916); his estate; James Jerome Hill Reference Library St. Paul (by 1921-1994; sold October, to MacMillan); W. Duncan MacMillan, Wayzata (1994-d. 2006); the W. Duncan and Nivin MacMillan Foundation (2006-2014; given to MIA)
Catalogue Raisonne
Seth Eastman: A Portfolio of North American Indians 50
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

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