32¢ George Caleb Bingham
Four Centuries of American Art
Issue Date: August 27, 1998
City: Santa Clara, CA
Printed By: Sennett Security Products
Printing Method: Photogravure
George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879), an artist noted for his paintings of Midwestern river life, was born in Virginia. When he was eight years old, Bingham and his family moved to Franklin, Missouri, where he grew up. Early in his career, the artist made a living as a traveling preacher and portrait painter. For three months he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
After his brief stay in Pennsylvania, Bingham returned to Missouri in 1844 and entered politics. He continued to paint during this time, and critics contend the artist produced his best work during the next decade of his life. Bingham’s vivid accounts of the rough and lively political life of the frontier and social behavior of men on the river are his most memorable. His best-known river scene is Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, which he completed in 1845.
Bingham attended the Düsseldorf Academy in Germany from 1856 to 1859. During that time, his paintings began to lose their ties to American life, and his popularity decreased. The artist became less active as a painter when he was appointed to a high political post in Missouri in 1875. Bingham spent the last two years of his life at the University of Missouri as an art instructor.