Study for "Spring on the Missouri" signed 'Benton' and inscribed 'Dear Harpo - this note made in the great 1937 floods in / Missouri was the original idea for your picture / Tom Hart Benton' (lower right) wash ink and pencil on paper 9 x 12in
PROVENANCE: The artist Harpo Marx, Los Angeles, California, gift from the above William W. Marx, Rancho Mirage, California
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 re-imagined the scene as epic theater, symbolic of mankind's valiant and unrelenting struggle with the forces of nature.
The completed painting to which this drawing relates is currently in the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, North Carolina.
A newspaper clipping showing Harpo Marx alongside the finished painting accompanies the lot.
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