Contact Us

Minnesota’s the Only State with a State Photo (and It’s Famous)

Commons Wikipedia/Public Domain
Commons Wikipedia/Public Domain

Many people recognize the iconic photo of an old man praying over his meal, but few know the story behind it. Turns out, the photo has its origins right here in Minnesota!

In 1918 a traveling salesman named Charles Wilden visited the small mining town of Bovey, Minnesota. While there, he stepped into the studio of local photographer Eric Enstrom. Noting the kindness in Wilden’s face, Enstrom asked the salesman to pose for a photo. As story goes, Enstrom placed Wilden at a table, asked him to fold his hands and bow his head and arranged household items including a book, a pair of spectacles, a loaf of bread, a knife, and a bowl of soup around him. He called the photo “Grace.”

A monument to “Grace” located in Bovey shares that — after taking the photo — Enstrom took the photo to a convention of the Minnesota Photographers Association where it received poor reception. A few years later, however, he took it again to the convention where the photo was hung in exhibition and received warm critical acclaim.

Ended up in Bovey and learned the history of that painting so many grandparents seem to have.

(If photo above does not show, refresh page or click here)

Enstrom sold the photo at his studio where it was originally available in black and white or brown tint. Later, his daughter began hand-painting the photo in oil colors, leading to a soaring increase in interest and sales. According to, the Enstrom family sold the rights to the photo in the 1950’s to Augsburg Publishing House in Minneapolis — a publisher associated with the American Lutheran Church. The photograph continued to grow in popularity in Minnesota and across the country, and by 1961 Augsburg Publishing had sold twenty thousand prints. Today, the photo is a well-known fixture in homes, churches, restaurants (and perhaps the occasional thrift store).

In 2002, a bill was proposed in the Minnesota State Legislature recognizing “Grace” as as the official state photograph. The bill was passed and a print hung in the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office in St. Paul. According to some reports, “Grace” is the only officially-recognized state photo today.

Today, Bovey, MN proudly hails itself as the Home of the Picture Grace.

The Town of Vining, Minnesota is Filled with Totally Unique Sculptures

12 Items You Didn't Know Were Invented In MN (And A Few You Did)

Best of 1390 Granite City Sports

Recommended For You

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Sign up to have news and information about your community delivered to your email.