Lot 86

Thomas Hart Benton "Sorghum Mill" Graphite

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Thomas Hart Benton

(Missouri, 1889-1975)

Sorghum Mill, circa 1940 or later

Graphite on paper

9 1/2" x 15 1/2"


Benton scholar Dr. Henry Adams: "Benton sketched sorghum mills at various points in his career.  In 1932 he made a study of a sorghum mill which he inscribed Sorgum Mill/ Ozarks/ Southern Mts. He also included a mule-powered sorghum mill—apparently a different one—in his Missouri mural of 1936 and used the motif as the basis for a lithograph, Missouri Farmyard, which was published by Associated American Artists in 1936. Finally, in 1968 he discovered a functioning, old-fashioned sorghum mill in Newton County, Arkansas. His drawings of that mill served as the basis for his painting Sorghum Mill (1968), formerly owned by Mrs. And Mrs. Forrest T. Jones of Kansas City, Missouri, as well as for a lithograph of the subject issued in the following year. This sketch is difficult to place since the motifs don’t line up with any of the works mentioned. The draftsmanship, however, suggests an effort from 1940 or later."


Signed to the lower right, with a notation ["wood pile"] at the lower right edge. Matted to 18" x 24".


There is some creasing in the top left corner, and a 1 1/2" crease to the left of the chimney stack. Wrinkling toward the right edge. Some faint foxing in the right and lower areas.

Overall Dimensions
Height: 18.00 in
Width: 24.00 in
Depth: 0.50 in

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Acquired by Vincent and Leah Campanella directly from Thomas and Rita Benton over the course of their 25 year friendship. A portion of the collection was given to the Campanellas by Rita in 1975 as compensation for Vincent completing "The Sources of Country Music," the mural left unfinished when Tom passed away in 1975. Vincent Campanella was later prominently featured in the Ken Burns documentary Thomas Hart Benton (1988). In 2001, the Campanella family sold the collection to the current owner, a private Kansas City collector.

Benton scholar and author, Dr. Henry Adams, has authenticated the entire collection in person. You can find his essay documenting the 25 year tumultuous friendship of Vincent and Thomas and the origins of the collection at Circle-Auction.com. A copy of his essay will be provided to all winning bidders.