Spring on the Missouri ~ A Painting by Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton ~ Spring on the Missouri

Spring on the Missouri (1937) by Thomas Hart Benton

In 1937 Thomas Hart Benton visited areas of Southeast Missouri ravaged by flood. In the artist’s own words: “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.” In his painting Spring on the Missouri, he re-imagined the scene as epic theater, symbolic of man’s never-ending struggle with the forces of nature. 

Cradling Wheat ~ A Painting by Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton, Cradling Wheat

Cradling Wheat (1938) by Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) was one of a group of American artists who painted ordinary people in everyday settings. His 1938 painting Cradling Wheat shows three men and a boy harvesting grain. Their bent backs engaged in toil are echoed in the shape of the hills behind them and suggest a close relationship between the workers and their environment. The man on the left is using an old-fashioned cradling scythe, so the process of cutting wheat in this manner is called “cradling.”