Lillian Thoele, "Missouri Splendor" oil on canvas, Mercantile Library Collection
Missouri Splendor: St. Louis Artists and the Landscape
Fred Conway, Elsah Bluffs
From its first exhibited painting—a prairie scene by Charles Deas lent to the Library in 1846—the St. Louis Mercantile Library has collected and displayed images of the American landscape. Since that time, St. Louis' artists and citizens have remained focused on the subject; by the 1880s a landscape painting movement had formed in St. Louis that would become one of the city’s most distinctive artistic features, and contemporary regional painters continue to explore this complex theme. Works by artists as diverse in style as Taos School founder Oscar Berninghaus and Modernist Fred Conway documented not only the nation’s changing geography, but also the attitudes, tastes and aesthetic aspirations of the society for which they were created. This exhibition celebrates the St. Louis artists – both resident and visitor – who remain a treasured part of this city’s cultural heritage.

Karl Bodmer, "View of the Stone Walls" aquatint, Mercantile Library Collection