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Thomas Hart Benton (American, 1889–1975)
LOT ID: 66994
Europa (study), ie. circa 1941

Oil, Tempera, on masonite
8.75 х 11.1 in. (22.22 x 28.19 cm.)
Signed, lower right on recto.
Lot description
This surrealistic study of a reclining nude reminiscent of the infamous 1938 work "Persephone," now in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, employs a symbolism and dark tone that is rarely seen in a Benton work. The study is thought to have been produced around the same time as the "Year of Peril" series, Benton’s controversial reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor, due to some of the subject matter and motifs. "Year in Peril" is currently on view at the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Private Collection
James Graham & Sons, New York
Estate of the artist

Arguably the most influential and well known artist of the Regionalist movement, Thomas Hart Benton created naturalistic, undulating paintings that captured the mood of Depression-era America. Born in Neosho, Missouri in 1889, Benton was the great-nephew of the American senator after whom he was named. After spending a year at the Art Institute of Chicago, he moved to Paris to study at the Académie Julian where he worked closely with Stanton Macdonald-Wright, a founder of Synchromism. During WWI, Benton documented the daily happenings of the Naval shipyards of Norfolk, Virginia, an assignment that influenced the rest of his career. Upon returning to civilian life, he developed the naturalistic and representational approach that combined social realism of the hard-hit Midwest and the narratives of American folklore and bible stories that was later called Regionalism. He continued to make prints and paintings in this style until his death in 1975.
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