“To be a farmer is to be a student forever, for each day brings something new.”

John Connell

This page features two galleries: one of farmers by different artists and a second gallery featuring the paintings of Thomas Hart Benton.

Jean Francois Millet “The Gleaners”Agriculture As an Art Subject [*]

Agriculture has been an art subject since the Mesolithic period. In some eras since then it seems to have been prominent but, in most eras, rarely seen. We know everyone has to eat, so agriculture ought to be an important subject. But kings and emperors that historically have commissioned art have wanted themselves or events in their lives recorded. Leaders of religion have needed idols to worship or paintings and sculpture to help focus worship.
Paintings, where the primary subject is agricultural life, have been uncommon in most of art history. Historically, we see most art as an agricultural subject during times when people are the most in control of their own lives.
The first artists to record agricultural activity were painters. Their subjects were the first domesticated animals. Cattle and goats were depicted alone or sometimes with herdsmen. Stylized pictographs on rock walls in shallow caves or plastered walls in areas from Turkey to the Sahara were done from 8000 to 3000 B.C. during the transition time from people living nomadic lives as hunter-gatherers to settling in communities to raise crops and livestock. This was a time when agriculture also influenced design. The practice of growing crops in rows, as well as regular patterns in weaving wool and flax for cloth, influenced the repetitive decoration of pottery, plastered walls, and jewelry making.”

*Quotation above is taken directly from the website cited and is the property of that source. It is meant to inform the reader and to give credit where it is due.

Learn more on Big Blend Radio.

Below is a gallery showing artwork that celebrates farmers and agriculture. Scroll down further to see a gallery of artwork of Thomas Hart Benton featuring the American farmer.

Thomas Hart Benton “Spring Ploughing”Celebrating the Art of Thomas Hart Benton [*]

“Named after his great-uncle, a five-term senator, Thomas Hart Benton was born on April 15, 1889, in Neosho, Missouri. His father, Maecenus Eason Benton, was a lawyer and a United States representative from 1896 to 1904, so the young Benton spent his early years in both Washington, DC, and southwest Missouri. Benton dropped out of high school at 17 and started working as a cartoonist for the Joplin American newspaper. His mother, Elizabeth Wise Benton, was supportive of his artistic ambitions, but Benton’s father enrolled him in the Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois, in 1906 before agreeing to allow him to attend the Art Institute of Chicago in 1907. The following year Benton traveled to Paris and studied at the Académie Julian. There he met California artist Stanton Macdonald-Wright (American, 1890 – 1973) and began to experiment with Macdonald-Wright’s synchromist style of abstract painting. In 1911 he returned to the United States and settled in New York. He taught briefly at the Chelsea Neighborhood Association, where he met his future wife, Rita Piacenza, one of his students. During World War I Benton served at the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, where he made illustrations for a catalog of ships and military equipment. After the war Benton went back to New York, and in 1922 he married Piacenza. The couple was married for 53 years and had two children. They regularly spent summers on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.”

*Quotation above is taken directly from the website cited and is the property of that source. It is meant to inform the reader and to give credit where it is due.

Learn more at The National Gallery of Art.

Below is a gallery featuring some of Thomas Hart Benton’s paintings of American farmers and agriculture.

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