St. Louis Mercantile Library

 

R_intro            R_Meeker

 R_rural life graphic                Joseph R.Meeker, View of the Meramec near

                                                                                                                 Glencoe, 1872


The term “landscape” most often brings to mind views of the countryside like the works exhibited here. In the 19th century, newly-established farms and homesteads became prime subject matter, painted in glowing hues that continued to extol the merits of westward expansion. But a love of the rural landscape was not limited to early artists. As cities grew and became population centers, rural life often became romanticized and glorified as a less-complicated, more genuine way to live.

 

R_Thoele MS                 R_bentonwheat              R_Thalinger

Lillian Thoele, Missouri Splendor, n.d.                Thomas Hart Benton,Cradling                 Oscar Thalinger, Farm 

                                                                                                     Wheat,1939                                 Landscape  in Winter, n.d.

For some painters, the artists’ colonies that sprang up in rural areas across the country became places of escape – an aesthetic refuge from the hectic pace of urban living. For others, their rural roots were never overcome, despite years of international travel and training.

For the artists exhibited here, and countless others like them, there is still merit in expressing nostalgic sentiments and local pride through portrayals of rural geography and life. From the sway of wheat fields to the harvested bales scattered across a rolling field, from the broad expanse of autumn trees to a lone cardinal encompassed by a blanket of snow, all aspects of the farming calendar appeal to the artists’ eyes as well as the viewers’.

R_Jones Wheat                   R_Gronemeyer2                

Joe Jones, Wheat, ca.1938                                Mary Hallet Gronemeyer, Missouri Landscape, ca. 1970