Born in Clinton, Missouri, in 1876, Louis Frederick Berneker was a painter, illustrator and graphic designer. Berneker’s early art training was at the St. Louis School and Museum of Fine Art. He also studied at the Academie Julian in Paris with Jean Paul Laurens from 1903 to 1904. After his return to the United States, Berneker opened studios in New York City and Gloucester, Massachusetts, where he became an important member of the North Shore Art Association, painting throughout the Cape Ann area of the Massachusetts coast.
Berneker exhibited widely with critically successful exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the National Academy of Design, New York City and the Art Institute of Chicago and was a member of the New York Watercolor Club, the American Watercolor Society, the Salmagundi Club and the North Shore Art Association. His style was a colorful and elegant synthesis of his academic training with Lauren in Paris, the new sinuous style of Art Nouveau, Impressionism as it reached the United States, and the new Social Realism being championed by Robert Henri and his followers at the Art Students League in New York City.
Berneker was also a successful illustrator for a number of magazines including Pearson’s Magazine, founded in England a decade earlier and first printed in the United States in 1899. This avant-garde humanist publication contained new skeptical literature, art criticism and political discussions with a slightly socialist leaning. At Pearson’s Berneker met and befriended H. G. Wells who first serialized his War of the Worlds in Pearson’s Magazine. In 1906 and 1907, Berneker designed the covers for both January issues.