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 Leon Pomarede  (1807 - 1892)

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Lived/Active: Missouri/Louisiana / France      Known for: panoramic river, church mural, portrait

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Leon Pomarede
An example of work by Leon Pomarede
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A panoramist, miniaturist, painter of indian scenes, river panoramas, and religious frescos in houses of worship throughout the Mississipi River valley landscape, Leon Pomarede, was born in Tarbes, France between 1807 and 1811. The biographical details of his life are sketchy because he traveled so much, but it is known that he was active in New Orleans and St. Louis beginning 1830. He was also the teacher of Indian painter, Charles Wimar.

Leon Pomarede studied in Paris with Louis Dominique Grandjean Develle; in Germany; and in Italy with his father-in-law, Antoine Mondelli whose daughter he married in 1841. It is believed Pomarede came to America in 1830 and lived briefly in New Orleans. Two years later, he was advertising in the New Orleans "Bee" newspaper of January 1832 with an advertisement that he could "ornament rooms in oil and fresco 'in the most English manner.' " (Mahe 311). In New Orleans, his first commission was three paintings behind the main altar in St. Patrick's Church, and the completed work was publicly unveiled in June, 1841.

Between 1832 and 1837, Pomarede was in St. Louis and completed one of the first-known views of the city as well as other oil paintings and "transparent window paintings" (Mahe 311). He did cathedral decoration for the St. Louis Cathedral - 1834; The Annunciation Church, Holy Angels Church, and St John's Church.

In 1843, Pomarede appears to have made his permanent home in St. Louis, although he continued to visit New Orleans. He worked as an oil and fresco painter and teacher of painting and drawing. His work in New Orleans included portraits, miniatures and the above-mentioned cathedral frescoes in St Patrick's Church. He also did fresco ceiling murals in the Old Cathedral in Leavenworth, Kansas. The structure burned in 1961 and a photo was taken with just a regular camera by a parishoner three days before the devastating fire. (See Summary Page)

In 1848, he briefly went into business with Henry Lewis on a Mississippi River panorama but abandoned Lewis to work on his own assisted by Charles Wimar.

In 1849, Leon Pomarede opened in St. Louis a show he called "Pomarede's Original Panorama of the Mississippi River and Indian Life". It had four moving sections, accompanying music and narration, and showed only the Upper Mississippi River. He took the exhibition to the Armory Hall in New Orleans from November 1849 to January 1850, and toured it to Mobile, Alabama; New York City; and to Newark, New Jersey, where it was destroyed by fire in November 1850. He billed it as taking four years to complete, and had to abandon his plans to take the panorama to Europe.

After losing such a major work, Pomarede spent the remainder of his life doing genre and religious paintings and murals for public buildings and churches.

He died on October 10, 1892 after falling from a scaffold he was using for church decoration in Hannibal, Missouri.

In 1868, one of his paintings won the Silver Medal for best animal painting at the New Orleans State Fair. At least one Indian painting, "Scaffold Burial" exists in the Bushnell collection at Harvard's Peabody Museum.

Sources include:
John Mahe, "Encyclopedia of New Orleans Artists"

August Schwartz, Bulletin of May 2000 to He is a great, great grandson of the artist and writes that "Pomarede's Mississippi River panorama was reported to be approx. 12 feet tall and five thousand four hundred feet long."

John Francis McDermott, "Lost Panoramas of the Mississippi"

Rebecca Hund, Hutchinson, Kansas

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