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Oscar Edward Berninghaus

October 2, 1874 - April 27, 1952


Oscar Edward Berninghaus was one of the founders of the Taos Society of Artists. Born in Saint Louis, he sketched constantly as a child, his father’s lithography business had spawned an early interest in sketching and watercolor.

Berninghaus was a young entrepreneur, selling his work to tourists and newspapers when he was just a teenager. At sixteen he dropped out of school to work first for a lithographer and then for a large printing company. He took night classes at Washington University’s Saint Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts (this school is now known as the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts) to continue honing his art practice.

By 1899 Berninghaus was teaching at the school and had his first major exhibit. That year, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad commissioned him to create sketches of Colorado and New Mexico along their route. He disembarked to visit Taos. He began spending summers there and on July 1, 1915 became, along with Joseph H. Sharp, Ernest Blumenschein, Bert G. Phillips, E. I. Course, and Herbert Dunton, founded the Taos Society of Artists.

Berninghaus moved to Taos permanently in 1925. By that time he had become known for his paintings of the Southwest, Native Americans, and Western life. His son, artist Charles Berninghaus, was also based in Taos.

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