Skip Navigation

The Acadians in the Achafalaya, "Evangeline"

Joseph Rusling Meeker

American Art

In the years immediately before the Civil War, Northerners associated dense, steamy swamps with the moral decay of Southern society and the plight of runaway slaves. Here, Joseph Rusling Meeker conveyed the more Eden-like, post–Civil War vision of the swamps. He took his inspiration from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s earlier epic poem Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie (1847). Longfellow tells of young Evangeline, one of the French Acadians expelled from Canada by the British in 1755, who searches for her lost lover amid a “dreamlike” and “strange” landscape. Adhering to Longfellow’s descriptions, Meeker evoked the lush flora of Louisiana’s Bayou Plaquemine, where Acadians sought refuge.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1871
DIMENSIONS 31 5/8 x 42 1/16 in. (80.3 x 106.8 cm) frame: 40 x 50 x 3 3/4 in. (101.6 x 127 x 9.5 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Signed lower right: "JR Meeker, 1871"
INSCRIPTIONS Inscribed verso under lining canvas: "The Acadians in the Achafalaya,/ "Evangeline"/ RM [in monogram] 1871."
CREDIT LINE A. Augustus Healy Fund
PROVENANCE Prior provenance not yet documented; by 1897, possibly acquired by Thomas E. Tutt of St. Louis, MO; by 1947, acquired by Victor D. Spark, New York, NY; February 24, 1947, purchased from Victor D. Spark by M. Knoedler & Co., New York; October 20, 1950, purchased from M. Knoedler & Co. by the Brooklyn Museum.
Provenance FAQ
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Joseph Rusling Meeker (American, 1827–1887). The Acadians in the Achafalaya, "Evangeline," 1871. Oil on canvas, 31 5/8 x 42 1/16 in. (80.3 x 106.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, A. Augustus Healy Fund, 50.118 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 50.118_PS22.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 50.118_PS22.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2024
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
This work may be in the public domain in the United States. Works created by United States and non-United States nationals published prior to 1923 are in the public domain, subject to the terms of any applicable treaty or agreement. You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this work. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties, such as artists or artists' heirs holding the rights to the work. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act. The Brooklyn Museum makes no representations or warranties with respect to the application or terms of any international agreement governing copyright protection in the United States for works created by foreign nationals. For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.