Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Story of "Grace"

           Grace by Eric Enstrom 1918

The article in today's newspaper caught my eye, announcing the death of 95 year old Rhoda Enstrom Nyberg. Rhoda is credited with bring color into her father's famous black-and-white photo by painting it with heavy oils. The painting is very familiar to me but I did not know the story behind it until today.

In 1918, a bearded peddler came calling at Eric Enstrom's photography studio in Bovey, Minnesota."There was something about the old gentleman's face that immediately impressed me. I saw that he had a kind face... there weren't any harsh lines in it," Eric recalled. After arranging bread, gruel, and a book before the old gentleman, the man struck a pose of uncontrived thankfulness, and the resulting photo captured perfectly the message Eric sought to convey: gratefulness was a grace to be cultivated even in the midst of war time sacrifice.

Enstrom sold the black-and-white photos by framing them and displaying them in his studio window. Later, his daughter precipitated more widespread distribution when she colored the photo with oils.

Evidence abounds that Enstrom's artistic eye had captured something timeless. Nearly a century later, the image is still hanging in many homes and churches. The Minnesota State Legislature has even given it a place of honor by designating it the state photo.

My Grandparents had "Grace" hanging in their home, along with the "Gratitude" painting by a different artist. My husband has the photo in his office at church.
Where have you encountered "Grace"?

1 comment:

Joyful Days said...

"Grace" & "Gratitude" a on the wall of my father's small house now. He didn't keep a lot of things when we moved him--but he kept those. My mother had picked them out and they had them for a long time.