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The County Election

Artist
George Caleb Bingham, American, 1811–1879
Date
1852
Material
Oil on canvas
Place made
Columbia, Missouri, United States, North and Central America
Place depicted
Missouri, United States, North and Central America
Classification
Paintings
Current Location
On View, Gallery 337
Dimensions
38 x 52 in. (96.5 x 132.1 cm)
framed: 49 1/4 x 63 3/16 in. (125.1 x 160.5 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Bank of America
Rights
Public Domain
Object Number
44:2001
NOTES
Bingham’s The County Election depicts a crowd of men gathered around a local polling place. The artist fills the painting with as much variety as possible, including a wide range of dress, facial expressions, poses, and gestures. Bingham was not only an artist, but also a politician. Early in this second career, he had been disappointed in a bid for state legislator, and some viewers interpret this scene as a critique of local politics. However, the words on the blue banner are a variation of the Missouri motto. They read, “The will of the people, the supreme law” and seem to suggest a level of confidence in the political process.

This was the first scene in Bingham’s "Election Series," and he had high aspirations for the project. Bingham hoped that it would launch the sale of lucrative prints and establish him and his family in a position of financial independence.
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