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Distributed for Missouri Historical Society Press

More than Ordinary

Early St. Louis Artist Anna Maria von Phul

The first complete catalog of work by Missouri’s earliest female artist provides a singular look at territorial life in the early nineteenth century.
Anna Maria von Phul (1786–1823) was the earliest-known female artist working in what was then called the Missouri Territory. Born in Philadelphia and raised largely in Kentucky, she spent her last half-decade in and around St. Louis. Though von Phul never considered herself a professional artist, her sketches and watercolors provide a singular window into the early-nineteenth-century lower Midwest. Von Phul’s art depicts not only the landscape and natural world of the St. Louis area, but also its architecture, fashions, and social life, with a notable focus on the local Creole population.

Hattie Felton’s More than Ordinary is the first complete catalog of von Phul’s existing work, all of which is part of the collections of the Missouri Historical Society. The book offers a valuable source of research for anyone interested in the histories of Missouri or Kentucky. More than that, it expands the story of American vernacular art and the role of women in that story. Felton’s opening essay examines von Phul's education and artistic influences and explores her time in St. Louis and neighboring Edwardsville, Illinois, alongside letters, newspaper clippings, and other materials from her life. Following the essay, a detailed catalog highlights examples of her watercolors, silhouettes, and copywork. Looking closely at von Phul’s life and work provides a firsthand perspective on the challenges that faced female artists in the early nineteenth century while simultaneously offering a rare look at Missouri on the cusp of statehood.

144 pages | 163 color plates | 9 x 11

Art: American Art

History: American History

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Table of Contents

Introduction by Dr. Frances Levine, President of the MHS; essay on von Phul; catalog raisonne of her work.

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