Work of Art: Spring on the Missouri
Thomas Hart Benton
American
1889-1975
Spring on the Missouri
1945
Oil and tempera on Masonite panel
30 1/4 x 40 1/4 in. (76.8 x 102.2 cm)
Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina
Art © T.H. and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trusts/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

In February 1937 Thomas Hart Benton was sent by the Kansas City Star to sketch the flood-devastated region of southeastern Missouri. The artist reported that "the roads of the flood country were full of movers . . . Every once in a while seepage from under the levee would force evacuation of a house and you would see a great struggle to get animals and goods out of the rising water." Benton's quick, vivid sketches later led to Spring on the Missouri. However, in translating the drawings into a painting, the artist reimagined the scene as epic theater, symbolic of mankind's valiant and unrelenting struggle with the forces of nature.

The original owner of this painting was Arthur "Harpo" Marx.

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