St. Louis Mercantile Library
Karl Wimar, Buffaloes Approaching Water Hole
Carl Wimar (1828-1862),
Landscape Sketch of the Upper Missouri River, ca. 1858-59,
charcoal and white chalk on paper
Collection of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University
of Missouri - St. Louis
Carl Wimar was born in Germany and came to the United States with his
family when he was fifteen years old. They settled in St. Louis, where Wimar
studied with Leon Pomarede, a French landscape painter currently living
in the city. Wimar eventually studied in Germany but returned to St. Louis
in 1856 and continued his role as a leader in the city’s art world.
He was among the directors of the Western Academy of Art, organized in St.
Louis in 1860 to provide quality art education to artists in the region
and to support the growth of culture in the city, and he loaned five paintings
to the organization’s inaugural exhibition. Another fourteen paintings
by Wimar were loaned to the exhibition by St. Louis patrons, most of whom
owned two or more works by this popular artist.
He frequently traveled on riverboats run by the American Fur Company to
sketch the landscape and peoples along the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers.
In the standard artistic practice of his day, Wimar would take these sketches
back to his studio to develop them into finished paintings. The sketch of
the Upper Missouri River reveals Wimar’s ability to capture the sweeping
grandeur of the river valley with a few quick strokes of charcoal and white
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to learn more about the role of the sketch in the artist's process.