Fred Conway, Elsah Bluffs
Fred Conway (1900 – 1973) Elsah Bluffs, n.d., oil on panel
Fred Conway (1900 – 1973)
Elsah Bluffs, n.d., oil on panel
Collection of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri - St. Louis
Conway, a St. Louis native, studied art at Washington University’s School of Fine Arts and in several schools in Paris, including the Académie Julian. He is known as a painter, educator and lecturer and was an active member of the St. Louis art scene. From 1929-1970 Conway taught at the School of Fine Arts, and he is known for numerous murals created for the WPA (Works Progress Administration). Over the course of his career he experimented with numerous styles and modes of expression, but throughout his body of work there is an emphasis on the landscape.

In this painting, Conway’s subject is the bluffs along the Mississippi River near Elsah, Illinois. Conway has allowed the towering expanse of the bluffs bathed in brilliant light to dominate the composition, while the fiery autumnal colors of the flanking trees separate the stone from its reflection in the slowly moving river at the foreground. With strong color contrasts and thick, aggressive brushwork, the artist has imbued this scene with energy.
Expand Your Horizons Conway was one of many St. Louis artists to produce work for the WPA. Click here to learn more about the WPA.