John Conrad Hansen - Painter

(1869 - 1952)

John Conrad Hansen was born the son of Sivert Christian Hansen (1839-1872) and Marit Megrund (1842-1927) in Trondheim, Norway in 1869. He immigrated to the United States with his mother and four siblings in 1881. His mother, widowed since 1872 took the family to Walnut Grove, Minnesota where her parents and siblings had previously settled. In 1882 she and her children moved to Minneapolis. Hansenís brother, Carl G. O. Hansen, became a well-known Norwegian-American journalist and author who was knighted by the King of Norway, First Class of the Order of St. Olav in 1923; he later received the St. Olavís Medal in 1939.

Other than the fact that he was an engraver and a lithographer, not much is known of the life of John Conrad Hansen until he joined the staff of the Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois in his sixty-ninth year and started a second career as a paleo-artist. At the Field Museum Hansen drew and painted a series of magnificent restorations of fossil vertebrates during his fourteen year career. Many of his line drawings were eventually published in the scientific literature, especially in papers authored by paleontologists Elmer S. Riggs, Bryan Patterson and Paul McGrew. Others, including an unknown number of beautiful oil paintings, were intended to add a dash of form and color to the fossil vertebrate displays in the museumís historic Hall 38, the now defunct hall of vertebrate paleontology. Unfortunately, Hansenís paintings were uninstalled in 1994 when the museum renovated its paleontology exhibits. Hansen died on November 11, 1952 while still employed at the Field Museum.

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