Nov 25, 2014 - Sale 2368

Sale 2368 - Lot 200

Price Realized: $ 16,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 4,000 - $ 6,000
(NEBRASKA.) [Schimonsky, Stanislas W.Y.] The Omaha and Ottoe Mission at Bellevue from the East. Watercolor and ink, 3 1/2 x 7 1/4 inches, accomplished within an ornate manuscript border (possibly added later) and captioned in manuscript, mounted on heavy card; pinholes in upper corners, short tear in right edge extending slightly into border, mount remnants in the margins and on verso, inscriptions circa 1900 in lower margin. [Bellevue, NE, circa 1855]

Additional Details

This watercolor is not only an attractive piece by an important frontier artist, but depicts a building with some importance to the early history of Nebraska. In 1846, the Presbyterians founded a mission to the Omahas and Otoes in Bellevue, Nebraska, at the fork of the Missouri River and Papillion Creek. The Omahas were removed to a reservation in 1855, and the mission house was used briefly for the first district court in Nebraska. It was slated for use by the Nebraska legislature until Omaha was awarded the capitol instead. The building was soon sold to James Thomas Allan (1831-1885) for use as a hotel called the Bellevue House. Allan commissioned local artist Stanislas Schimonsky to paint three views of the building in 1855; he paid $20 for the group (see Morton's 1907 "Illustrated History of Nebraska," page I:223).
This charming and accomplished watercolor was apparently sketched from the opposite bank of the Missouri River in Iowa. A group of 5 Indians is gathered in the foreground. A steamboat, possibly the Nebraska, appears to the right. The Nebraska worked the Missouri River from 1854 to 1866, and briefly employed a young pilot named Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1861.
Stanislas W.Y. Schimonsky (born circa 1824 in Prussian Poland) was one of the first artists to set up permanent residence in Nebraska, following in the footsteps of explorers like Catlin and Bodmer. According to the Federal Writers' Project state history, he was concerned "not only with Indians, but also with characteristic views of frontier trading posts, steamboat landings, claim cabins, and mission buildings" (page 120). He remained in the state through at least 1881, working as a teacher, surveyor, and civil engineer.
Schimonsky did not sign this piece, but it was illustrated in Morton's 1907 "Illustrated History of Nebraska," where it was captioned "Presbyterian Mission Building, Bellevue, Neb., 1854" (page II:560). Its companion piece titled "The Presbyterian Mission at Bellevue" appeared on page I:222, where the artist is credited as "Schymonsky." Both paintings were at that time owned by James T. Allan's widow Elizabeth (Buddington) Allan in Omaha. The present piece is marked with her name and address in the lower margin.