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, and distinguished connoisseurs and patrons in their time, and these individuals infused the Mercantile with the art-loving spirit. 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 Sculpture Collection spans the years 1830 to today and explores themes from literature, mythology, and history.  Materials include marble, bronze and zinc.

PARTIAL LIST OF HOLDINGS:

  • Beatrice Cenci, by Harriet Hosmer, marble, 1856
  • John Napier Dyer, by Robert Porter Bringhurst, bronze, 1890
  • Thomas Hart Benton, by J. Wilson MacDonald, marble, 1860
  • Henry Shaw, by H.S. Kretschmar, marble, 1878
  • George Washington, after Houdon, plaster, ca.1859
  • James Yeatman, by Robert Porter Bringhurst, marble, 1895
  • James Harrison, by J. Wilson MacDonald, marble, 1860
  • The West Wind, by Thomas Gould, marble, 1870
  • Daniel Webster, by Louis Verhaegen, marble, 1854
  • Death Mask of Napoleon Bonaparte, by Francesco Antommarchi, plaster, 1830
  • Christopher Columbus, by John Gott, marble, 1840
  • Robert Burns, by William Brodie, marble,1865 with ornately carved wooden pedestal depicting images from Burns' life and work
  • Sir Walter Scott, by John Hutchison, marble, 1872
  • Venus de Medici, by M. Geiss, zinc, 1862
  • Dante, by Guiseppe Moretti, marble, 1911
  • Courtship of Sleepy Hollow, by John Rodgers, plaster, 1868
  • Rip van Winkle at Home, by John Rodgers, plaster, 1871
  • Rip van Winkle on the Mountain, by John Rodgers, plaster, 1871
  • Rip van Winkle Returned, by John Rodgers, plaster, 1871
  • The Favored Scholar, by John Rodgers, plaster, 1873
  • Abraham Lincoln from Life, by Leonard W. Volk, plaster, 1862
  • Mark Twain, by Robert Porter Bringhurst, terra cotta with applied patina, ca. 1910
  • Abraham and Isaac, by Ruth Keller Schweiss, bronze, ca. 1965
  • Into the Unknown (Pony Express), by R. H. Dick, bronze, 2011

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
314.516.6740