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PROPERTY OF TATUM O'NEAL

Thomas Hart Benton
DESERT DAWN
Estimate
500,000700,000
JUMP TO LOT
21

PROPERTY OF TATUM O'NEAL

Thomas Hart Benton
DESERT DAWN
Estimate
500,000700,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

American Art

|
New York

Thomas Hart Benton
1889 - 1975
DESERT DAWN
signed Benton and dated '61 (lower right)
oil on canvas laid down on panel by the artist
16 by 20 inches
(40.6 by 50.8 cm)
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This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Thomas Hart Benton Catalogue Raisonné Foundation. Committee Members: Dr. Henry Adams, Jessie Benton, Anthony Benton Gude, Andrew Thompson and Michael Owen.

Provenance

ACA Galleries, New York
Mr. and Mrs. Fred W. McCraw, Prairie Village, Kansas, by 1973
Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Acquired by the present owner from the above, circa 1986

Literature

Matthew Baigell, Thomas Hart Benton, New York, 1973, n.p., illustrated pl. 199

Catalogue Note

Born in Neosho, Missouri in 1889, Thomas Hart Benton was raised in America’s heartland and rose to prominence as a painter of rural life during the Regionalist movement of the 1930s. Benton developed a strong sense of national pride at an early age given the politicized environment in which he grew up. His great-uncle was Missouri's first Senator and his father was a congressional representative who often invited other public figures to their home. Such exposure gave Benton an interest in the American scene that developed into a lifelong theme in his artistic career.  Benton's extensive travels, combined with his family's prominence, made him as much a historian as an artist, and as much a nationalist as a regionalist. In its sweeping depiction of the grandeur of the western landscape, Desert Dawn exemplifies Benton’s distinctive version of this uniquely American style.  

In the 1950s and 1960s, Benton traveled throughout the American West, exploring the Great Plains, the Grand Tetons, and the Rocky Mountains. These far-ranging trips inspired him to explore the visual vocabulary of popular Hollywood Westerns, which were continuing to grow in popularity throughout the nation. In Desert Dawn, Benton's bold tones imitate the rich saturation and colorful palette of these Technicolor films. Describing the power of color in the artist's later landscapes, the art historian Matthew Baigell notes: "Although these works were painted in his studio, his ability to recapture the clear quality of Western light was remarkable. Combined with his penchant for employing broad contours...this facility enabled him to approximate closely both the poster-bright colors of these upland areas and the sensuous curves of the terrain" (Thomas Hart Benton, New York, 1973, pp. 183, 187). 

Writing on the importance of Benton's western landscapes from the 1960s, such as Desert Dawn, the scholar Dr. Henry Adams states: "His investigation of the Western landscape culminated in the early 1960s...in these mountain scenes, human activity is dwarfed and almost swallowed up by the grandeur of the landscape" (Thomas Hart Benton: An American Original, New York, 1989, p. 327). 

American Art

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New York