Lot 46
  • 46

Thomas Hart Benton 1889 - 1975

1,500,000 - 2,500,000 USD
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  • Thomas Hart Benton
  • T.P. and Jake
  • signed Benton (lower right); also inscribed For T.P.'s birthday/11 years old/from Dad on the reverse
  • tempera on canvas mounted on board
  • 48 by 31 inches
  • (121.9 by 78.7 cm)
  • Painted in 1938.


Thomas P. Benton (the artist's son)
Private Collection, New York, 1980
Acquired by the present owner, 1991


New York, Associated American Artists
Kansas City, Missouri, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Institute of Arts; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Thomas Hart Benton: An American Original, April 1989-June 1990, p. 300, illustrated in color


Thomas Hart Benton, Vineyard Gazette, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, 1946
Thomas Hart Benton, "The Dog with a Smile, Takes His Last Trip with the Tom Bentons," The Kansas City Times, August 28, 1946, p. vi, illustrated
Thomas Hart Benton, "An American in Art: A Professional and Technical Autobiography," Kansas Quarterly, Spring 1969, p. 111, illustrated
Matthew Baigell, Thomas Hart Benton, New York, 1974, p. 158, illustrated pl. 112

Catalogue Note

The present work depicts the artist’s son T.P. Benton and his beloved dog, Jake. T.P. was eight years old when his mother, Rita, found Jake on a farm west of Kansas City, Missouri. The Bentons adopted him as their family pet and he became particularly devoted to T.P. When Jake died in 1946 Thomas Hart Benton wrote an obituary for the dog, which appeared in the Vineyard Gazette and The Kansas City Times. In one passage Benton recalls an event which illustrates Jake’s special affection for T.P.: “After three years had passed Rita took T.P. to Italy to visit her mother. This was a sad time for Jake. Up to now he’s given me little attention. Rita fed him and T.P. played with him. Of what use I might be he had little need to consider. I was just there, good enough to shake hands with occasionally but not important. Now, however, he clung to me and I took him with me on a long roundabout tour of the South which ended, after seven weeks, at the docks in New York were we met the boat returning his real master and mistress.

"There was a high rail fence between the passageway for debarking passengers and the people who had come to meet them. I stood by this fence trying to catch a glimpse of Rita and T.P. in the crowd of voyagers. But Jake beat me to it. The chain leash in my hand twisted suddenly and before I knew it Jake’s full grown seventy pounds of muscle and tawny hair was soaring over the fence.

“No one who saw the meeting of the boy and dog could ever forget it. The travelers and those who met them stood aside to watch the play of Jake’s ecstasy. They forgot their own emotions in this more intense one of a devoted animal. His yaps of joy sailed up over the arching girders to the high roofs of the dock and came back to pierce your heart. This was the high point of life and those who saw recognized it” (The Kansas City Times, p. vi).