The Original Palette Scrapings

The St. Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts, a department of Washington University, was founded on May 10, 1881.[1]  In 1882, students attending this new School of Fine Arts (now the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts of which the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum is a part) decided to begin a journal called Palette Scrapings.  The publication featured student artwork, illustrations, poems, and articles about everything from trips abroad to interesting lectures to philosophical musings about what it means to be an artist (“an isolated being, without the encouragement necessary for financial success,” for example.[2])  It began as a quarterly, but tapered off to a semiannual publication over the course of its 3 year existence.

Drawing of the St. Louis Museum and School of Fine Arts as seen in a February 1883 issue of Palette Scrapings

Drawing of the St. Louis Museum and School of Fine Arts as seen in a February 1883 issue of Palette Scrapings

It was an ambitious project, much like the Museum and School itself, but the student authors did not hesitate to tell of their success.  One editor writes about the rival Student Life newspaper in the January 1885 issue of Palette ScrapingsStudent Life featured a “Questions” section, asking in one issue: “What Student Life would like to know: If anybody outside the city of St. Louis, knows where and what the Washington University is.”  The editor of Palette Scrapings responds: “Know then, oh Student Life! that Palette Scrapings reaches five hundred readers outside the city of St. Louis, going to the best schools, artists and educators in the United States…”[3]

Beyond discussing the superiority of their journal, the authors of Palette Scrapings wrote often about artworks of their own creation, those seen in other cities, and those of the University’s Museum.  The student authors delighted at the artwork available to them in the Museum, citing paintings, drawings, and sculptures they admired and copied.  Among them were Julien Dupré’s In Pasture, which the Kemper Student Council selected to display at the recent Vault Party.  In a journal issue from June of 1883, one writer speaks more broadly about the Museum in words that perhaps still ring true today: “Few citizens seem to be aware that there is as fine a collection of pictures now to be seen at the Museum as during the recent Loan Exhibition… [These artworks] constitute a treat which no true lover of art can afford to forego.”[4]

With that, I encourage you to peruse the digitized copy of Palette Scrapings and to return often to this newest version of the journal dedicated to the St. Louis Museum and School of Fine Arts.

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By Allison Fricke (April 26, 2013)

[1] Fairchild, Mary L. “Editor’s Notes,” Palette Scrapings 4 (January 1885):6-7.

[2] “Local Notes,” Palette Scrapings 2 (June 1883): 18-19.

[3] Ketner, Joseph D. “A Gallery of Modern Art at Washington University in St. Louis,” in A Gallery of Modern Art at Washington University in St. Louis, ed. Jane E. Neidhardt (St. Louis: The Washington University Gallery of Art, 1994).

[4] “Contribution from an Ex-Student,” Palette Scrapings 4 (January 1885): 3.

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2 responses to “The Original Palette Scrapings

  1. Pingback: Joseph Pennell & the Panama Canal | Palette Scrapings·

  2. Pingback: Art, Medicine & Ancient Egypt | Palette Scrapings·

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