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St. Louis from the River Below

1832-1833 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 19 3/8 x 26 3/4 in. (49.2 x 68.1 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.311 Not currently on view


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“St. Louis . . . is a flourishing town, of 15,000 inhabitants, and destined to be the great emporium of the West . . . [It] is the great depot of all the Fur Trading Companies to the Upper Missouri and Rocky Mountains, and their starting-place; and also for the Santa Fe, and other Trading Companies, who reach the Mexican borders overland, to trade for silver bullion, from the extensive mines of that rich country . . . I have also made it my starting-point, and place of deposit, to which I send from different quarters, my packages of paintings and Indian articles, minerals, fossils, &c., as I collect them in various regions, here to be stored till my return; and where on my last return, if I ever make it, I shall hustle them altogether, and remove them to the East.” George Catlin probably painted this image in St. Louis in 1832. It is one of the two earliest views of the city, according to Mississippi Panorama, and it ranks with the Niagara Falls series as George Catlin's most detailed landscape. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 35, 1841, reprint 1973; Truettner, The Natural Man Observed, 1979)

Keywords

Cityscape - Missouri - St. Louis

Landscape - river - Missouri River

Waterscape - boat

Western

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added