George Caleb Bingham Essay

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George Caleb Bingham was a painter and politician born in Augusta County, Virginia on March 20, 1811 and died on July 7, 1879. He showed an early interest in drawing and supposedly would draw on the sides of barns and fence posts at his family’s farm. Eventually, he moved to Missouri and by the time he was about twenty he began to earn a living painting portraits. Bingham traveled to New York and Philadelphia where he became inspired by other artists who painted scenes from everyday life. Aside from painting, Bingham had strong political opinions, which not only showed up in his artwork depicting his support of the Whigs, but he also held some elected positions in his lifetime. Bingham became known as “The Missouri Artist” and painted life on the frontier and common people in settings including river boats, voting on election day, and carrying out domestic chores. One way Bingham helped to instill national pride was through his paintings of political campaigning and elections which showed American democracy in progress. Also, his work celebrated the common people and their daily lives. The painting, called The County Election (1852), connects to the time period because it shows citizens gathering to cast their votes on election day and portrays an election the way it would typically occur during this time period including a candidate handing out his card before a citizen is going to vote and a voter publicly calling out his choice to an election clerk. Furthermore, this painting is a byproduct of the time period because there aren’t any women or African Americans voting and genre painting or portraying ordinary people was a popular style of painting during this time

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