Grell was commissioned to paint a unique seven foot tall by twenty-eight foot long mural to be mounted above the curved “new ticket counter” as part of the World War II renovation at Union Station in St. Louis in 1942. More than 100,000 passengers used the terminal daily during the height of the war. The St. Louis Union Station terminal was the “busiest passenger rail terminal in the world.” This historic mural titled Commerce on the Landing, depicts the Eades Bridge, Mississippi River front, 2 mighty Steam Boats and an old fashioned steam engine train on the riverfront during the 1880′s. The mural was officially unveiled in June 1942.
The mural was in place until c 1985, when, during an extensive renovation it was moved to the UNION STATION Cine 10 theatre for a short period until the theatre closed and the mural was lost.
This mural was rediscovered in March 2014 by employees during a $66 million renovation of the hotel and terminal. Please see color pictures of the newly rediscovered mural above. Notice the Impressionist style used by Grell for this particular commission. Versatility by Grell was common. Many news agencies covered the discovery from St. Louis to Indiana, Illinois, many across Missouri, the Washington Times, the New York Post and the San Francisco Gate all ran extensive stories and links to the video covering the great find during a time when great art discoveries are being well represented in Hollywood films such as the “Monuments Men.”
The newly discovered mural is currently undergoing an extensive conservation treatment in St. Louis in preparations to be rehung in the Union Station Grand Hall. St. Louis’s Kodner Gallery owner Jonothan Koder conservatively valued the artwork at $150,000 due to its beauty and relevant historical stature. Union Station owners believe Commerce on the Landing ”is considered one of the most important public artworks ever created for St. Louis.”
Many THANKS to Joe Hartness and the Harrick Group of Chicago who have lead the design team during this renovation and his relentless pursuit in finding the mural.
oil on canvas, seven feet tall by twenty-eight feet wide, signed lr LOUIS GRELL, CHICAGO