George Caleb Bingham

Bingham, George Caleb, 1811–79, American genre painter and politician, b. Augusta co., Va. His family moved (1819) to Missouri, which was the site of most of Bingham's activities. In 1837 he studied for a short time at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. From 1856 to 1859 he traveled in Europe, studying at Düsseldorf for a time. Journeys on the Mississippi and through the South resulted in such paintings as Fur Traders Descending the Missouri (Metropolitan Mus.); Daniel Boone Coming Through the Cumberland Gap (1851; Washington Univ., St. Louis); and Raftsmen Playing Cards (City Art Mus., St. Louis). Bingham entered Missouri politics with his election to the legislature in 1848 (he had been defeated in 1846); he served as state treasurer (1862–65), after a year in the Union army, and became state adjutant general in 1875. Such pictures as The Verdict of the People and Stump Speaking (Mercantile Library Association, St. Louis) reflect his interest in politics. His scenes—vigorous, interesting in composition, humorous, and faithfully representing their time and locale—were very popular in his day, and engravings from them sold widely.

See catalog and study by E. M. Bloch (2 vol., 1967, repr. 1986).

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