Eric Enstrom Biography

Eric Enstrom Biography

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Eric Enstrom
Back in the wary year of 1918, Charles Wilden, a bearded, saintly old man with footscrapers to sell called on Eric Enstrom at his photography studio in the tiny mining town of Bovey, Minnesota.

There was something about the old gentleman's face that immediately impressed Enstrom. "I saw that he had a kind face; there weren't any harsh lines in it," he late said.

An idea began to form in Enstrom's mind. At the time he was preparing a portfolio of pictures to take with him to a convention of the Minnesota Photographers Association. "I wanted to take a picture that would show people that even though they had to do without many things because of the war they still had much to be thankful for," he said.

On a small table Enstrom placed his large family Bible, and on it laid a pair of spectacles. Beside the Bible, he placed a bowl of gruel, a loaf of bread, and a knife. Then he asked Wilden to sit at the table and place his folded hands to his brow in prayer.

Enstrom immediately noticed that Wilden struck the pose very easily and naturally. To bow his head in prayer seemed to be characteristic of the elderly visitor.

As soon as the negative was develeoped, Enstrom was sure that he had something special; a picture that seemed to say, "This man doesn't have much of earthly goods, but he has more than most people because he has a thankful heart."

He took it to the convention, but it caused little stir that year. A few years later Enstrom took it to the convention again. This time it was hung in exhibit and received critical acclaim.

Most sales in the early 1920's were to traveling people who came through Bovey and saw the picture in the window of Enstrom's photo studio. As soon as one print was sold, he'd make another to take its place.

The early Grace pictures were printed in black and white or in brown tint. Later Enstrom's daughter, Mrs. Rhoda Nberg, began hand-painting them in oils, and interest in the picture soared. When demand for the picture outran Enstrom's ability to supply photographic prints, he sold the publishing rights to Augsburg Publishing House in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Printed in full, natural color, Grace is a cherished favorite in countless homes, churches, and restaurants everywhere.

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