I. Based on the exhibition "George Caleb Bingham," National Gallery
of Art, Washington, D.C., July 15 to September 30, 1990.
2. Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Repro-
duction," in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt (New York: Schocken,
1969), p. 225·
3. Throughout his career, Bingham's life largely was one of constant
motion as he searched up and down the Missouri and Mississippi for
portrait commissions, across the Midwest and Atlantic seaboard for some
larger aesthetic purpose, and then finally all over Europe for new stylistic
inspiration and professional acceptance. For additional discussion see Paul
C. Nagel, "The Man and His Times," in Michael Edward Shapiro et ai.,
George Caleb Bingham (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1990), pp. 15-5I.
4. See Nagel, "The Man and His Times," and Elizabeth Johns, "The
'Missouri Artist' as Artist," in Shapiro et al., GeoYJZe Caleb Bingham, pp.
15-5 1,93-130.
5. As his success grew, he also became more involved in Missouri
politics, standing for election as a Whig for the state legislature unsuc-
cessfully in 1846 and successfully in 1848. However, Bingham's first wife
died the same year as his election. This event was the first in a series of
personal crises that ultimately derailed his most creative activities by the
late 18 50S. While he remarried in 1849, to the daughter of a University of
Missouri professor that James Rollins discovered for him, he broke with
the Art-Union in 1852, after having sent twenty works to them for repro-
duction, over a critic's slighting of his work. The end of this lucrative
personal arrangement forced Bingham to go more and more into the
business end of his craft. From 1852 to 186o, he oversaw the engraving and
sale of his own work, but the time required by such entrepreneurialism
severely undercut his creativity. By 1857, Bingham finished the last of his
great works, The Jolly Flatboatmen in Port and Stump Speaking. After living
on and off in Philadelphia during the early 18 50S, in 1856 he sailed to
Europe, where he lived briefly in Paris and then in Dusseldorf from 1856 to
1859. In Germany Bingham's powers as an artist actually seemed to de-
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