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 John Wilton Cunningham  (1868 - 1903)

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Lived/Active: Missouri / France      Known for: portrait painting, newspaper illustration

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Ad Code: 4
John Wilton Cunningham
from Auction House Records.
The Yellow Butterfly
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is the obituary of the artist from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 28, 1903.

John Wilton Cunningham   ( 1868-1903)

A special dispatch to the Post-Dispatch from San Antonio, Texas, announces the death of John Wilton Cunningham, the St. Louis artist, Thursday night at Camp Reliance, a health resort near there.

The dispatch states that Mr. Cunningham's death was due to consumption. He arrived at Camp Reliance nearly two months ago, expecting to return in the fall and complete pictures for Harry R. Hawes and others by whom he had been engaged, but grew constantly weaker until the end came.

Mr. Cunningham was a son of Rev. J. W. Cunningham, a Southern Methodist minister, who resides at 14124 Locust street.  He was about 35 years of age and unmarried.

To his friends in St. Louis and elsewhere - and he had thousands of them - the dead artist was affectionately known as "Jack."

He was born in St. Louis, did newspaper illustrating here, and made St. Louis home, except during the four years he studied his art in Paris.  His paintings adorn the homes of many prominent St. Louisans.

The people of Missouri know much of his work.  He excelled in portraits and several of these hang in the governor's mansion at Jefferson City.

Mr. Cunningham painted life-size portraits of Gov. and Mrs. Lon V. Stephens about four years ago and since then made paintings of Gov. Dockery and his late wife.  The painting of Mrs. Dockery was his last important work. 


The following information is from the Art Department Files of the St. Louis Library (undated)

John Wilton Cunningham   (1868-1903)

Once in a blue moon an old scrapbook yields treasure.  Here is a bit of paper, yellow with age, which came to light about the time John Cunningham's mural decoration from the old Planters' Hotel was presented to the City Club. It was found among the possessions of one of the members, and passed along to your Art Advocate and thence to readers of the art column.  t is headed, "A Promising Young Artist," and if Robert Bringhurst were still with us, it might evoke a reminiscent smile, for he was of the same vintage.

"Another young St. Louisan has achieved distinction in Paris - J. Wilton Cunningham.  He received "Honorable Mention" at the Salon for his painting, For My Rabbits, which represents a girl in a vegetable garden gathering herbs for her bunnies. The picture is simply a study, but Messrs. Howe, Gutherz and his teachers advised him to send it to the Salon, with the result stated. He would have been awarded a medal but for the fact that he was only 21 years old and had been in Paris but a year, and they thought it might have a bad effect on his future to confer such a distinction. The picture was obtained for exhibition in this country, and has already been shown in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.  It will be seen in St. Louis this week at the Museum of Fine Arts."

Submitted by Edward P. Bentley, Art Researcher and Collector, Greenville, Michigan


These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:
Born near St. Louis, he was active in the St. Louis Art Association. He studied at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts and the Academie Julian in Paris and exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1890, winning a prize.

Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

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