Olof Krans Folk Paintings Donated to Bishop Hill Historic Site

Martha Downey
Olof Krans Folk Paintings Donated to Bishop Hill Historic Site
BISHOP HILL, IL –Two paintings by Bishop Hill painter Olof Krans were recently donated to the Bishop Hill State Historic Site by Mrs. Barbara Glick.  Her late husband, Merle Glick, was an expert on Illinois folk art and was a strong advocate for Olof Krans’s importance as a folk artist, not only in Illinois, but nationally. 
“Approaching New York and Leaving for Europe, 1850” was painted by Krans in 1910.  It shows two sailing ships, the Gevle and the Condor, passing on a stormy sea.  In 1850 the Krans family came to the United States on the Condor.  The Gevle is named for the Swedish seaport for which Galva, Illinois is named.  This scene is one of Krans’s last known paintings, done six years before his death.
In 1906 Krans, painted “Landing in the New World” celebrating the accomplishment of another Swede.   This painting shows Leif Ericson landing in Vinland.
Both of these paintings were in the “Olof Krans:  Painter of Bishop Hill” exhibition at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.  They also appear in the recently published book The Art of Olof Krans:  A Prairie Vision.  Merle Glick donated funds and oversaw the creation of this book.  The paintings now hang in the Bishop Hill Museum, joining 104 other paintings in the state historic site’s collection by Olof Krans, including portraits, work scenes, and stage curtains.

Krans was born in Sweden but moved to the Bishop Hill religious colony as a boy. He lived there until 1867. By trade, he was a house and decorative painter, but later in his life he began painting his memories of his Bishop Hill Colony childhood, including the people.  

Bishop Hill is located about 45 minutes southeast of the Quad Cities and an hour northwest of Peoria. It was founded by Swedish religious dissidents in 1846 as a “Utopia on the Prairie.” Many of the original Colony buildings remain today, and many of the residents are descendants of the original settlers.

The historic site, operated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. It includes Colony Church, Bishop Hill Museum, and the Bjorklund Hotel. For more information, visit www.dnr.illinois.gov.
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