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Bingham - "Jolly Flatboatmen in Port" poster
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Bingham - "Jolly Flatboatmen in Port" poster


When Bingham arrived in Europe for the first time in 1856, he brought with him the ambition of creating a history painting that would depict an important event in the development of the American West. He also brought along the memory of his well-received paintings of river life dating from the mid-1840s. These works, which had given him national visibility, suggested to him further potential.

After settling with his family in Düsseldorf, Germany, Bingham set to work on Jolly Flatboatmen in Port. With more than 19 figures, it was to be his largest and most complex river painting. Moreover, unlike his earlier paintings of similar subjects, which were set in remote bends of unnamed rivers, this work was to depict a center of commerce, St. Louis. The scene shows a flatboat docked at the wharf, and boatmen amusing themselves with their own homespun entertainment, music, and dancing. The revelry is so lively that another flatboat has pulled alongside to observe it. Bingham borrowed figures from his earlier works for this painting; the tour-de-force dancing figure who holds a red handkerchief had appeared in his best-known river painting, Jolly Flatboatmen, 1846.

paper: 21 x 28 inches; image: 18 3/4 x 28 inches


Item # 006320
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