Though he would call the Ozarks region of Missouri his "cathedral of nature", painter Carl Rudolph Krafft would eventually reject labels of "regionalism", hoping instead to be seen in a more universal light.
Krafft had grown up in the Midwest and painted many of its scenes and landscapes. Early on he had shown an Impressionistic style and applied it to his genre pictures of river boat crews and men working. He would eventually be known for his landscapes, in which his ability to accurately portray the atmosphere, setting and the overall mood of his subject would reveal his technical skills and earn him great popularity.
His years of formal study had taken place in Chicago during the early 1900s. He attended evening classes at the city's Art Institute from 1903 and 1904 and then again from 1910 to 1913. During this period he had maintained a studio for himself in Oak Park, Illinois and would travel lengthy distances to do field studies. He would visit Indiana and the Ozarks at this time and by 1916 was exhibiting his paintings of this region.
With the opening of World War I many artists fled to young colony that Krafft and his friend Rudolph Ingerle had created there. The Society of Ozark Painters would capture the inherent beauty of the Ozarks atmosphere and find respite from the ugliness of the War.
Success at the Chicago Art Institute's 1916 exhibition allowed Krafft to win popular recognition and to dedicate himself to his painting full time. Eventually his works were so popular that they were plagiarized and sold as originals. Krafft combated this by placing his thumb print on many of his paintings as a method of authentication.
By the 1920s he was expanding his perspective and painting subjects far removed from his beloved Ozarks. This includes the Hudson River Valley of New York, which also became a popular subject for the artist. In 1924 he once again spent a year studying at the Chicago Art Institute under Leon Kroll, who became one of his strongest artistic influences for the rest of his life.
Krafft paintings remained popular throughout his career, and many are in the permanent collections of dozens of museums and institutions nationwide