Jacob Fjelde

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Jacob Fjelde
1st Minnesota Monument Gettysburg.jpg
Monument to the 1st Minnesota Infantry at Gettysburg National Battlefield
Born Jakob Henrik Gerhard Fjelde
(1855-04-10)April 10, 1855
Ålesund, Norway
Died May 5, 1896(1896-05-05) (aged 41)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Occupation sculptor
Children Paul Fjelde

Jacob Fjelde (10 April 1859 – 5 May 1896) was a Norwegian-born, American sculptor.[1] He is remembered as both a prolific portraitist and the creator of public monuments. One of his better known works is the one dedicated to the 1st Minnesota Infantry (1897) located at Gettysburg Battlefield where its 262 members suffered 215 casualties.[2]


Jakob Henrik Gerhard Fjelde was born at Ålesund in Møre og Romsdal, Norway. His father, Paul Gerhard Michelet Fjelde (1827–1873), was a skilled carpenter and wood carver. He had moved to the United States in 1872, but died the following year. Jakob Fjelde was a pupil of Brynjulf Bergslien during 1878. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen from 1879 to 1881 and was a student of Vilhelm Bissen 1880–1882. He travel abroad, living in Rome from 1882 to 1884. Fjelde lived and worked to Bergen, Norway from 1884 until 1887 when he immigrated to the United States. After arriving in America he settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The following year he married the Danish-born Margrethe Madsen. They eventually had four children.[3] He was the father of sculptor Paul Fjelde and the brother of artist Pauline Fjelde. His grandsons included Ibsen scholar Rolf G. Fjelde. [4]


At the Industrial Exposition in Minneapolis during 1889 and 1890, Fjelde presented 18 busts and relief portraits, including marble busts of Sven Oftedal and Georg Sverdrup, both of whom would serve as Presidents of Augsburg College and were founders of the Lutheran Free Church . At the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago during 1893, he presented a bust of the Norwegian-American politician Knute Nelson. [5]

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area hosts several of his major public bronze outdoor monuments. One is a Statue of Hiawatha carrying Minnehaha, based on characters from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem The Song of Hiawatha. The statue was created for the Columbian Exposition in 1893 and permanently erected in 1912. Another, in Loring Park in Minneapolis, is of Norwegian violin virtuoso Ole Bull was cast in 1897, a year after Fjelde's death. The Minerva bronze sculpture is located in the downtown Minneapolis Central Library.[1]

Jacob Fjelde had first sculpted Henrik Ibsen from life in Molde, Norway during 1885. Although Ibsen disliked sitting for artists, he took a liking to the precocious young sculptor, then 26 years old, and patiently sat for the bust.[6] Among his portraits of Ibsen, several are noteworthy. One is located in Tacoma, Washington in Wright Park, another is at the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, North Dakota.[7] Another bust of Ibsen, located in the Como Park, Zoo, and Conservatory in St. Paul, Minnesota was stolen from the Park in 1981. The sculpture was recovered, restored, and reinstalled by Public Art Saint Paul in 1999.[8]


Additional reading[edit]

  • Hansen, Carl G. O. My Minneapolis. (Minneapolis, MN: Standard Press, 1956) pp. 159–165 and pp. 169–170.
  • Coen Rena Neumann (1976) Painting and Sculpture in Minnesota, 1820-1914 (University of Minnesota Press) ISBN 978-0816607716


  1. ^ a b Harris, Moira F., Monumental Minnesota: A Guide to Outdoor Sculpture, Pogo Press, 1992, pg. 6
  2. ^ Hawthorne, Frederick W., Gettysburg: Stories of Men and Monuments, The Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides, 1988, pg. 81
  3. ^ Proske, Beatrice Gilman, Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture, Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina, 1943, pg. 355
  4. ^ Jakob Fjelde (Store norske leksikon
  5. ^ Jakob Fjelde, Billedhugger (Norsk biografisk leksikon. Marion John Nelson)
  6. ^ Templeton, Joan About the bust of Henrik Ibsen (Ibsen Society of America Home Page) [1]
  7. ^ Collin, Andrea Winkjer Prairie Arts (North Dakota Council on the Arts. Issue No. 08-3. September, October, November, December 2008) [2]
  8. ^ Public Art Saint Paul Henrik Ibsen bust at Como Park

External links[edit]

Online book

Burton Hall at the University of Minnesota

Hennepin County Library

Minnesota Historical Society