John Casper WildU.S., b. Switzerland 1804-1846
Old Ferry - View of Rock Island Blockhouse 57.0978
Davenport was a town of approximately 1,000 people when the artist painted this scene of Fort Armstrong on Arsenal Island as seen from across the Mississippi River. Before the railroad bridge linking Illinois and Iowa was completed, privately operated ferry boats transported passengers and freight across the river. In this scene at John Wilson's ferry landing in Davenport, Antoine LeClaire is shown seated in his buggy near the figures of Gilbert McKown, who owned a store on Front Street, and Sam Fisher, a local storyteller. Another figure rings the bell to summon the ferry. John Caspar Wild was the first artist to spend much time in Davenport. He arrived in 1844 from St. Louis as a portrait painter, landscape artist, and lithographer, and quickly became fascinated by the Mississippi River and river towns from St. Louis north to Dubuque.
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