The famous painting
of the first log cabin built by the Icelanders in Dakota is now back in North Dakota where it belongs. Recently auctioned in New York, Emile Walters’ exquisite depiction of the Jóhann Pétur Hallsson
|The log cabin in Pembina|
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cabin is truly an important part of the heritage of the Dakota Icelanders. The painting, dated 1925 - at a time when the cabin still existed, but had been relocated, and several of the participants in the construction were still alive, is a great illustration in impressionistic style of an early settlement farmstead, this one on the banks of the Tongue River, looking west, with the Pembina Escarpment in the background.
This is the painting that matches the illustration on page 27 of Saga Íslendinga í Norđur Dakota
(The Saga of the Icelanders in North Dakota), compiled by Thorstína Sigríđur Jackson from her father’s (Thorleifur Jóakimsson Jackson’s) original work and published in 1926. Thorstína Sigríđur’s husband, Emile, was the first American-Icelandic artist of international renown and his paintings still hang in several museums.
The log cabin, which was completed on June 23, 1878, and measured 12 by 14 feet and 5 feet under the eaves, was built of logs cut in the immediate area and dragged by hand to the building site. It originally housed 9 people until additional cabins could be constructed. Upon its retirement as a home, it was moved to the site of Hallson where it served for many years as the post office building.
After the successful bidder brought the painting home, he removed the paper backing and discovered the inscription describing the painting. A search of the internet led him to the Dakota Icelanders website, and the painting is now in the possession of Arlan Steinolfson of Fargo, North Dakota.