COLUMBIA, Mo. — A community newspaper photographer’s picture of a Republican official using a Thomas Hart Benton mural as a writing backdrop went viral on Monday.

Dave Marner, the editor of the Gasconade County (Missouri) Republican, took the picture of the Missouri Republican Party’s vice chairwoman, Valinda Freed, and an unidentified man, scribbling on business cards pressed against the mural. Mr. Marner was covering a veto session at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City last Wednesday when he snapped the photo.

“I was befuddled,” he said. “Who exchanges numbers on a Thomas Hart Benton mural?”

Mr. Marner shared the photo on his Facebook page Friday afternoon, and art bloggers and news organizations began to pick it up. “People from at least eight foreign countries have shared the photo,” said Mr. Marner, who has been a photojournalist for more than 30 years. “I’ve never had a photo just go ballistic like this.”