Title: St. Louis Riverfront after the Great Fire, ...
Book Condition: Very Good
Dust Jacket Condition: N/A
Watercolor and ink drawing on paper: 5 x 31 5/8". Signed lower right, inscribed "Locust St." lower margin. Inventory#: 1993. This superb, highly accurate and beautiful watercolor by French artist Edouard Lemasson captures St. Louis just after one of the darker moments in its history: the great fire of 1849. On the evening of May 17 of that year, the steamer White Cloud, moored at the foot of Cherry Street, caught fire. The steamboat broke loose from its moorings and began to float down the Mississippi River, setting other steamboats on fire as it went. It finally came to rest at the foot of Locust Street, where the heat emanating from the boat ignited nearby buildings. The resulting fire began to spread and threatened to burn down the entire city. The fire department, however, avoided further calamity by blowing up six warehouses to create a fire break. By the time the fire had run its course, however, casualties included 430 houses, twenty-three steamers, nine flatboats and barges, the Republican, Reveille and Evening Gazette printing offices, the post office and three banking houses. The burned district was mainly the old French portion of the city with its narrow streets and antiquated buildings, which in the space of two years was entirely reconstructed. Lemasson's splendid watercolor shows the city panoramically from the river in a format known as "profile view". A lone surviving steamboat can be glimpsed at far right. Just below it the artist has written "Locust Street," which was the spot where the White Cloud ended its fiery, destructive journey downriver and ignited the adjacent buildings onshore. To the left the Old Court House dominates the skyline, its dome not yet complete with the high profile so familiar today. This is a watercolor of signal historical importance as a visual record of St. Louis after its great fire, and a work of delicate beauty. 0. Bookseller Inventory # 001993
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