Published: September 25, 2001
ST LOUIS, MO. – Bank of America has donated three major paintings by celebrated Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham to the Saint Louis Art Museum. The paintings are valued at $45 million.
Known as the “election series,” the oil paintings depict the three stages of the Nineteenth Century election process and are among the best known of Bingham’s works. The series includes “Stump Speaking,” 1853-54; “The County Election,” 1852; and “The Verdict of the People,” 1854-55.
“Bank of America wanted to find a permanent home for the Bingham paintings, given the paintings’ historical and cultural significance to the people of Missouri,” said Kenneth D. Lewis, chairman and CEO of Bank of America.
“We chose the Saint Louis Art Museum because of its international stature, its renowned comprehensive collection and our high regard for its commitment to quality in its collections and programming,” Lewis said. “The Art Museum is well known for its collections of American art, including art of significance to the region, and has the world’s largest collection of Bingham’s paintings.”
The museum’s collection comprises 14 paintings by Bingham, among which are several of his masterpieces, including “Self-Portrait of the Artist,” 1834; “Raftsmen Playing Cards,” 1847; “The Wood Boat,” 1850; and “Jolly Flatboatmen in Port,” 1857. The Saint Louis Art Museum is also the repository for 112 Bingham drawings owned by The Bingham Trust for The People of Missouri.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is the other repository for Bingham’s drawings.
Art historians today consider Bingham to be one of the important portrayers of Nineteenth Century American life and people. His genre paintings depict trappers, boatmen, pioneers, statesmen and ordinary people engaged in the process of settling, civilizing and democratizing the western frontier. The three paintings from Bank of America comprise the artist’s most significant series.
Bank of America acquired the three Binghams as part of its merger with Boatmen’s Bancshares, Inc., in 1997. The paintings were purchased by Boatmen’s in the early 1940s. They have been on loan to the Saint Louis Art Museum for the past three years.
The museum is at 1 Fine Arts Drive. For information, 314/721-0072.
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