George Caleb Bingham: Missouri's Famed Painter and Forgotten by Paul C. Nagel
By Paul C. Nagel
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Additional resources for George Caleb Bingham: Missouri's Famed Painter and Forgotten Poilitician
By now it was clear that Bingham was no ordinary citizen of frontier Missouri. Even physically, he was extraordinary although he was of medium height, five feet, eight inches tall, and his adult weight remained about 150 pounds throughout life. What set him apart from others started with an illness that struck him 17 18 George Caleb Bingham during his early travels around Missouri. He caught a form of smallpox near the town of Liberty that left his face pock-marked and his head totally bald. ” The result lent him an unusual appearance.
Bingham found especially impressive among American genre paintings the works by pioneers Emanuel Leutze and William Sydney Mount. He had made a few early attempts to copy them, including the sentimental canvas that he entitled Going to Market. Now, in early 1843, Bingham plucked up his courage and made the decision to compete with Leutze and Mount. Portrait painting would no longer be his chief interest. What is even more significant, however, is that he decided he must use the scenes he knew so well—those along the Missouri River valley.
And Harding himself had been inspired to paint by watching an itinerant artist— the same inspiration he would provide for a youthful Bingham. When Harding’s early efforts at painting, particularly portraits, won praise, he went in search of willing subjects and of other artists from whom he might learn. In 1818, his travels took him to Kentucky, where he studied with Matthew Jouett. After listening to Jouett talk about Kentucky’s great pathfinder, Daniel Boone, and learning that Boone was then living in Missouri, Harding set out in 1820 to locate the hero and paint his portrait.