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Cradling Wheat

Thomas Hart Benton, American, 1889–1975
Tempera and oil on board
Made in
Kansas City, Missouri, United States, North and Central America
Current Location
On View, Gallery 333
31 1/4 x 39 1/4 in. (79.4 x 99.7 cm)
framed: 41 1/4 x 48 13/16 x 3 3/16 in. (104.8 x 124 x 8.1 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
© 2020 T.H. and R.P. Benton Testamentary Trusts / UMB Bank Trustee / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS, NY)
Object Number
A group of lean, muscular field hands harvest grain on a sunny hillside. The rise and bend of their activity through the undulating contours of the land emphasizes the intimate relationship between man and nature. The artist, Missourian Thomas Hart Benton, was known for elevating the life of the working class, making their everyday labors appear heroic. Benton sought to capture images of grassroots America, which he felt was rapidly disappearing due to industrialization. Certainly Cradling Wheat is nostalgic: the cradle scythe used by the farmer on the left to cut the grain would have been old-fashioned by the 1930s. In his description of Cradling Wheat Benton wrote, “Scene in the hill country of East Tennessee in 1928…doubt whether this kind of harvesting can be found anymore—anywhere.”
- 1939
Thomas Hart Benton, Kansas City, MO

1939 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Thomas Hart Benton [1]

[1] Per bill of sale dated January 10, 1939 [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, January 5, 1939.
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