The Portraits

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Self-Portrait with Rita

Title
Thomas Hart Benton; Rita Piacenza Benton
Artist
Thomas Hart Benton, 15 Apr 1889 - 9 Jan 1975
Sitter
Thomas Hart Benton, 15 Apr 1889 - 9 Jan 1975
Rita Piacenza Benton, ? - 1975
Date
c. 1924
Type
Painting
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Stretcher: 124.5 x 100 x 2.5cm (49 x 39 3/8 x 1")
Frame: 146.1 x 121 x 7cm (57 1/2 x 47 5/8 x 2 3/4")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jack H. Mooney
Object number
NPG.75.30
Exhibition Label
In the early years of his career, Thomas Hart Benton was among the young painters drawn to abstraction. He soon rejected that brand of modernism, however, and emerged in the 1920s as a leader of the regionalist school of realism, whose primary concern was the portrayal of local life and history in America. Best known for his panoramic murals, Benton brought to his works a boldness of composition that led one critic to describe him as "the most . . . vigorous and virile of our painters." Benton made this portrait of himself and his wife, at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts during the first year of their marriage. In the course of their residence there, he later recalled, "I really began to mature my painting." The monumentality of its muscular figures anticipates his later work.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection