Popular Subjects in the Art of New Orleans

Though there is a myriad of wonderful subjects to choose from, some pop up again and again in the art of New Orleans, including in our online New Orleans art gallery. Here are some of the most common ones.

Saint Louis cathedral in art

St. Louis Cathedral is probably the most painted building in the city. It also happens to be the oldest cathedral in the United States that has been continually used, though its form has changed over time. It was rebuilt after an early fire, and later renovations changed its appearance somewhat. But what you see today dates from around 1850 in its finished form. You’ll see paintings of St. Louis Cathedral in galleries and on street stands all over the French Quarter.

St. Louis Cathedral towers over Jackson Square, the original central square of the French city dating back to the 17th century, where the militia would practice and parade. Jackson Square paintings are nearly as popular as those of St. Louis Cathedral. In fact, many paintings of Jackson Square include the Cathedral in the background.

Cafe du Monde

Another popular subject for New Orleans paintings is right there on Jackson Square as well. It’s the Café du Monde, serving its famous “beignets” or fried donuts and coffee. It sits on the site of the old market along the river where city dwellers would buy their produce from farmers and brokers. Old etchings of New Orleans show a dazzling assortment of French, Americans, black and native Americans and traders from around the country.

Art and the Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is commonly painted, often with the steamboats that once plied the river regularly and now are tourist attractions. They immediately bring to mind gamblers in white linen suits and shady characters. The city of New Orleans exists specifically because of the river, having been established as a defensible outpost near the river’s mouth that would allow the French to control the traffic on this mighty river.

The mossy oaks of New Orleans represent yet another favorite subject, looking almost like a picture of age, nostalgia and grace. Many of the most beautiful of these can be found in Audubon Park, which has inspired plenty of paintings itself.

A French Quarter scene by Nestor Fruge

French Quarter artistes

And of course, untold numbers of painters have tried to capture the charm of the French Quarter, with its buildings dating back to the end of the 18th century. It looks like no place else in America, and even New Orleanians who visit the French Quarter frequently often have paintings of this favorite neighborhood on their walls.

These popular New Orleans subjects and more appear in paintings carried by New Orleans Art Exchange and available online, so check often to see what’s new in the inventory!


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