This elaborate painting on glass is a view of the Brant Mansion, which was located at 806 Chouteau Avenue in St. Louis. Occupying an entire city block, this house was one of the city’s largest and most elaborate homes in the nineteenth century. It was built in the late 1840s by Colonel Joshua Brant (1790-1852) a native of New Hampshire and a veteran of the War of 1812. Brant came to St. Louis in 1823 while still in the Army, and took part in the Indian Wars in the West and in Florida. He left the military in 1839, but remained in St. Louis. He built several houses, the last and grandest being the Brant Mansion, which at the time was the finest house in St. Louis., as it was a marble mansion with a walled garden. In 1861, the mansion was rented by General John Charles Fremont (1813-1890), who was in charge of the Western Department of the U.S. Army. Fremont paid $6000 a year; a huge sum at the time. Fremont continued to occupy the mansion during the early years of the Civil War. Because Fremont had a large staff and is thought to have changed the house somewhat, the painting probably dates from before 1860. The house and its details are painted on the back side of the glass. The sky behind, however, is a pastel on paper, rather than being painted on the glass.
No information about the artists who signed this work, M.A. Bugel and C. Kleinschmidt, is known. It is likely that one or both of them were European artists who came to this country not long before the painting was done. Reverse paintings by American artists are usually much simpler than this one.