Lot 52

Thomas Hart Benton "Study for M.E. Benton, Missouri Mural" Graphite (1935-36)

Estimate: $1,500 - $2,500
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)

Study of M. E. Benton for the Missouri Mural, 1935-36

Graphite on paper

11 1/2" x 8"


Benton scholar Dr. Henry Adams contextualized this drawing: "This is a study for the figure of the artist’s father, Maecenas Eason Benton, delivering a speech, for a scene which dominates the long wall of Benton’s Missouri mural. As a boy, Benton often accompanied his father on his political campaigns for the U. S. Congress, and in his mural, he clearly paid tribute to these early memories. While Benton did not include himself in the painting, a building that stands just behind Maecenas Benton in the mural carries the date 1889—the date of Benton’s birth."


In An Artist in America, Benton recalled: "Political meetings of the eighteen-nineties were regular carnivals… I remember these affairs well, with their flags and big glare-eyed staring posters… A campaign orator, on his arrival at a town, did not go to his hotel to rest and prepare himself in a quiet conference with his machine managers, as he does today. He had to be tough, for the minute he got off his train or stage, he was planted behind the local band and made to march after its blaring horns and smashing drums to a great pubic ‘hurrah’ in which he had to shake everybody’s hand and get slobbered over by all the sticky babies of the neighborhood. He was not supposed to need rest. He ate a big dinner and then went out to the fairground or the camp meeting ground where, under the dried branches of trees set for shade on rickety crossbeams, he was supposed to yell at the top of his voice for a couple of hours. I’ve seen my father do this time and again."


Matted to 20" x 16".


Very good condition, noting a bit of darkening to the sheet from age. Slight pinhead-size dimple to the sheet at the right edge.

Overall Dimensions
Height: 20.00 in
Width: 16.00 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.