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Painting Collection

HISTORY: From its beginnings, the St. Louis Mercantile Library sought to provide its rooms as a gallery for art as well as for books to its members-the early populace and citizenry of a frontier city. In many ways, the Mercantile was founded by business leaders not only as a general library for all readers, but also as an art museum, one of St. Louis' first and longest lasting, in which such merchants exercised a high degree of taste and knowledge in collecting art for the viewing public. Many special exhibitions were presented by the Library in its earliest days, some to raise funds for various causes. Library leaders, such as James Yeatman and Henry Bacon, were deeply interested in the fine arts, even distinguished connoisseurs and patrons in their time. The Mercantile was often the recipient of a gift of art, or of a long-term loan which was never recalled, and almost by default the founders frequently saw to it that paintings of great merit were preserved which otherwise would have been lost to subsequent generations.

SCOPE: The collection of oil paintings and watercolors spans over 150 years from ca.1810 to the present. Genres include portraiture, landscape, and western art. Subjects range from portraits of prominent Americans, especially St. Louisans, to regional rural and urban landscapes and riverscapes, to Western and Native American subjects.


ACCESS: The Art Collection is available for viewing during service hours 7:30 A.M.- 10:30 P.M., Monday-Thursday; 7:30 A.M.-5:00 P.M., Friday; 9:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M., Saturday; and 1:00 P.M.-9:00 P.M., Sunday, and by appointment.

Researchers are advised to call ahead concerning changes in hours due to University intersessions and holidays. The St. Louis Mercantile Library is located on levels one and two of the Thomas Jefferson Library building.

Question about this collections should be referred to:

Julie Dunn-Morton
Curator of Fine Art Collections

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