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Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975)
Thomas Hart Benton was born in Neosho, Missouri. His cartoon-like paintings showed everyday scenes of the contemporary Midwest, especially bucolic images of pre-industrial farmlands. Benton's sympathy was with the agricultural working class and the small farmer, caught in the path of the Industrial Revolution. His works often show the melancholy, desperation and beauty of small-town life.
Kentuckian
Plowing It Under
Off
Mississippi
Ballad of the Jealous Lover
Vineyard
Kansas City

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Martha's Vineyard 1925
oil on canvas
22x 24 in.


It was in Martha’s Vineyard that Thomas Hart Benton really first began intimate study of the American environment and its people.

From 1920 until his death, Thomas Hart Benton and his wife, Rita, spent summers in the town of Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard. The cliffs, moors, architecture, and people of the island provided Benton with a needed escape from New York City’s industrial environment, inspiring many of his major paintings, such as his famous American Historical Epic series (1919–1924). The Corcoran’s painting, closely related to a smaller canvas in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, depicts two well-known Chilmark landmarks: at left is the Town Hall, where the Bentons went square dancing on Saturday nights, and nearby is Beetlebung corner. . . .
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