Lot 92

Thomas Hart Benton "Wagon in Ellipse Cone" Pen and Ink, Joplin Mural

Estimate: $500 - $1,000
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)

Scheme for Wagon in Ellipse Cone, 1972

Graphite on stationery

7" x 10 1/4"


Benton scholar Dr. Henry Adams: "When he was seventeen, Thomas Hart Benton spent a summer in Joplin, Missouri, working first as a surveyor for a mining crew and then getting a job as a cartoonist for the local newspaper, the Joplin American. In 1972, when he was commissioned to produce a mural for the Joplin Civic Center, Benton based his design on these memories, showing himself in the foreground, as a young newspaper cartoonist, with the main street of Joplin stretching out behind him. Back in 1906, lead and zinc had just been discovered in the area, and this led to a boomtown atmosphere which Benton evoked with poker players, a fashionably dressed lady, and a newcomer’s wagon, loaded with household goods and inscribed with the phrase 'Joplin or Bust.'


"This early perspective study for the Joplin mural reveals the surprising complexity of Benton’s conception. Rather than setting all the figures on the same stage, Benton created “platforms” for each of the major motifs. The planes of these platforms slope at different angles, creating a complex problem of perspective rendering. While these shifting planes are not something most viewers would notice, they add greatly to the dynamism and rhythmic movement of the design."


The sketch was executed on Benton's personal letterhead. Matted to 16" x 20".


Very good condition, noting very mild wrinkling to the sheet.

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.