Lot 85
  • 85

Thomas Hart Benton 1889-1975

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Description

  • Thomas Hart Benton
  • Missouri State Capitol Mural: Social History of Missouri: St. Louis and Kansas City, Frankie and Johnny--Study
  • signed Benton, l.r.
  • tempera on masonite

Provenance

The Thomas Hart and Rita P. Benton Testamentary Trusts
Graham Gallery, New York, circa 1975
Private Collection (acquired from the above)
Private Collection, 1997

Exhibited

St. Joseph, Missouri, Albrecht Gallery of Art, n.d.

Literature

Henry Adams, Thomas Hart Benton: An American Original, New York, 1989, pp. 252-275, illustrated in color p. 272
Bob Priddy, Only the Rivers are Peaceful, Independence, Missouri, 1989

Catalogue Note

Bob Priddy writes: "The present study is Benton’s symbolic depiction of Missouri’s two largest cities, St. Louis and Kansas City.  This segment of the mural was painted on the north wall of the Lounge.

"St. Louis, known for beer and shoe-making in the 1930s, is portrayed on the left, along with Benton’s salute--through the secretary in the foreground--to the rise of women in the working world.

"Kansas City, known for pharmaceutical manufacturing, its stockyards and cattle-processing, the Nelson Museum of Art and its World One Victory Memorial, is portrayed to the right.  The city was also recognized as the home of the famous Missouri political Boss, Tom Pendergast, whose portrayal in the lower right of the panel was one of the most controversial parts of the mural.

"The small panels offer opposing views to the class struggle in Missouri during the 1930s.  On the left, Benton portrays the ‘good life’ through the depiction of couples in a speakeasy enjoying an evening of jazz music and dancing.  The small panel on the right represents the poverty of Missouri during the depression, when times were so difficult that people scavenged coal in the railroad yards.

"The scene above the door depicts Frankie and Johnny--a segment of Missouri history that has transformed into national mythology."

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