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Burial of DeSoto. June 5, 1542, and was entombed at midnight in its flood, which still sings for its discoverer, a magnificent and eternal requiem.
Evening scene of burial at sea. Man on altar in center of boat. Men surrounding him are praying and priest at center is giving rites. Remainder of title: " June 5, 1542, and was entombed at midnight in its flood, which still sings for its discoverer, a magnificent and eternal requiem." From the Inventory Listing of Sidney A. Alpert "Burial of Desoto/ (8.13 x 12.13) 1876 - S "
Currier & Ives created numerous prints that illustrated important moments in history. Burial of DeSoto depicts a burial at sea, the funeral service of Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernando DeSoto (1486-1542). DeSoto was the first European to explore the territory of the southeastern American continent and the first to document crossing the Mississippi River. The solemn scene is illuminated by moonlight as well as by the torch held by one of the mourners.
Because of frequent clashes with Native Americans during his expeditions, DeSoto declared that he was an immortal sun god to gain acceptance and avoid conflict. When the explorer did pass away, his men concealed his death by burying his body in the middle of the Mississippi River during the night. The remaining members of the expedition, many of whom were sick or injured, most without their horses, attempted to return to Mexico City by land. After land travel proved too difficult, they returned to the Mississippi River, where they constructed boats and managed to sail down the river to the Gulf of Mexico. The group continued to encounter hostile tribes who attacked them along the way.
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