Lot 34

Thomas Hart Benton "Study for KCP&L Commission" Graphite (1952)

Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
Sold for

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $25
$500 $50
$1,000 $100
$5,000 $250
$10,000 $500
$20,000 $1,000
$50,000 $2,500
$75,000 $5,000
$100,000 $10,000

Thomas Hart Benton

(Missouri, 1889-1975)

Figure with Power Lines and Cross, Study for Kansas City Power and Light Commission, 1952

Graphite on paper

4 1/2" x 10" (image)


Benton scholar Dr. Henry Adams offers this context for the sketch: "In 1952 Benton was commissioned to make a painting for the cover of the annual report of the Kansas City Power and Light Company. In this drawing, Benton sketched out his first thoughts for the project: an allegorical representation of Energy and Thought, against a background of power lines and buildings. His final design in gouache, now on extended loan to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, shows a more down-to-earth approach to the project. In a design somewhat reminiscent of his panel of Instruments of Power, for his famous mural, America Today, 1930, it shows a telephone lineman on the right against the background of a generator, a power plant, power lines, and a streak of lighting." 

A notation at the top of the sheet (outside of the mat window) reads "Energy Thought."  Housed in a glazed frame measuring 14 1/4" x 19".


Good condition. There is a small spot at the top left of the image, above the figure's arm, and another fainter spot to the left of the figure's torso. Very small, faint stains at the bottom left of the image.

Overall Dimensions
Height: 14.25 in
Width: 19.00 in
Depth: 1.00 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.