(1874-1952) A founder in 1898 of the Taos Society of Artists, Oscar Berninghaus excelled at drawing animals and figures in contemporary garb in Southwestern landscapes. Many of his early paintings were Impressionistic, "suffused with color and light". Berninghaus was born in St. Louis, Missouri and developed an interest in art through his family's lithography business. He attended night classes at the St. Louis School of Fine Art. In 1898, he was on an illustration assignment for "McClure's" magazine, which took him for the first of many times into New Mexico and Arizona. He had heard of the special beauty of Taos and there met Bert Geer Phillips, who was already a resident, and Phillips invited him to return. In 1919, he bought an old adobe house near Taos overlooking the town and in 1925 settled there permanently.
Berninghaus did some painting in surrounding states including Phoenix, Arizona in 1931, where he painted a five lunette mural at the Post Office building of the opening of the west.
His style was one of short, quick brush strokes, which gave his work a unique texture. Early in his career, he painted on site, but later from memory, which was described as being extremely accurate. One of the reasons he was committed to the Taos Art Colony was that he believed it was a distinctly American art, something definitive of subject matter unique to this country. He depicted Indians in a realistic, unromaticized way, going about their lives as they actually did in twentieth-century New Mexico.