St. Louis Mercantile Library

 

Louis Schultze, Prairie Fire
Louis Schultze (ca. 1820 – ca. 1896) Prairie Fire, ca. 1880, oil on canvas
Louis Schultze (ca. 1820 – ca. 1896)
Prairie Fire, ca. 1880, oil on canvas
Collection of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri - St. Louis
Although little is know of Schulze’s early life, it is documented that he was born in Germany, that he studied at the Berlin Academy of Arts, and that he arrived in the United States, and in St. Louis, around 1855. He specialized in portraiture – the most lucrative type of art at that time – but was well known by local collectors and in the regional exhibitions for expressive landscapes in both oil and watercolor.

Written reports from the period indicate he traveled extensively in the West to gather source material for his paintings. This work is thought to depict a famous fire at Carondelet, Missouri. The dark undertones and the rich color reveal Schulze’s academic training, but they also contribute to an effective expression of the danger associated with a prairie fire.