New York: Associated American Artists, 1937. unbound. Lithograph. Image measures 9.4 x 12"
This lithograph by the esteemed American artist Thomas Hart Benton shows a father pulling his two children on a mule-drawn cart. The children's expressions and body language demonstrate fatigue, and it is likely that their journey has been long. This lithograph documents a migratory stage in American history in a fashion typical of Benton: surfaces and skies undulate rhythmically, drawing the viewer into the scene and creating a sense of atmosphere that speaks of the time the drawing was made. According to the Library of Congress, Benton once remarked of this image: "From a drawing made 1928--in North Carolina Smokey Mountain country. With a companion driving the car I followed these mill people till the drawing was finished." The lithograph was printed and distributed in 1937 through department stores and mail order, with the intention of making art accessible to those with fewer available funds. The print has been professional cleaned but has a minor scuff to lower margin from repairs. Signed in the plate and again, below, in pencil. Edition of 250. Notes along the bottom margin suggest dimensions.
Thomas Hart Benton (1889--1975) is one of the foremost artists of the Regionalist art movement in the first half of the 20th century. Best known as a painter and muralist, he created dreamy scenes of everyday people that often attest to the changing landscape of industrialization. Although his works are strongly concentrated in the American Midwest, they also turn at times to the South and West of the country. This wonderful lithograph, while in one sense gloomy, also displays the hard work and resilience that accompanied Depression-era cultural attitudes.