Lot 7

Thomas Hart Benton "Train Hauling Logs" Graphite (1928)

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Thomas Hart Benton

(Missouri, 1889-1975)

Train Hauling Logs, 1928

Graphite on paper

5 1/2" x 11"



Benton scholar Dr. Henry Adams offered the following context for the imagery: "This drawing represents the logging train which Benton included in the background of his Changing West panel of his mural America Today. As Benton’s drawing shows, the locomotives for logging trains were different than those on regular railroads. They were smaller, ran on a smaller gauge track, and employed a Shay engine, with direct gearing to each wheel, since regular engines were unable to climb the steep grades that led to logging sites. The locomotives for logging were also more old-fashioned in appearance than those for freight or passenger trains, since they served a smaller, less competitive niche of the railroad market: this example has the tall funnel and boxy appearance of locomotives of the 1890s.


"Benton exhibited some twenty sketches of “The Lumber Camp” in his Delphic Gallery exhibition of 1929. A drawing of this train owned by the Whitney Museum of American Art records the design that Benton followed in his mural. Another drawing reproduced by Matthew Baigell in his biography of Benton, shows this same train crossing a bridge crudely constructed from logs.


"While he made a number of drawings of this specific lumber camp, Benton gave it brief mention in his autobiography, noting only that his friend Bill Hayden, 'invited to a lumberjack’s breakfast, mistook the thick bacon-grease gravy for oatmeal, poured canned milk and sugar on it, and being ashamed of his mistake, had to eat it while the boys looked on wondering at his strange and virile tastes.'"


Matted to 16" x 20".


There is a tear and creasing along the right edge of the sheet. Mild toning and faint foxing.

Overall Dimensions
Height: 16.00 in
Width: 20.00 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.