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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
At the turn of the twentieth century, Thomas Hart Benton was among many young painters who embraced 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. Benton made this portrait of himself and his wife (wearing the latest in bathing-suit fashion) at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, sometime around 1924. Best known for his panoramic murals, he 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 was also interested in Hollywood’s star culture, and his bare- chested likeness in this work may reference Douglas Fairbanks Sr.’s appearance in The Thief of Bagdad (1924).
Comenzando el siglo XX, Thomas Hart Benton se contaba entre los numerosos pintores jóvenes que se entregaron a la abstracción. Sin embargo, pronto rechazó ese tipo de modernismo y en los años veinte fue uno de los líderes de la escuela de realismo regionalista, cuyo interés principal era la vida y la historia de las pequeñas comunidades de Estados Unidos. Benton hizo este retrato de él y su esposa (con un traje de baño de última moda) en Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, alrededor de 1924. Conocido sobre todo por sus murales panorámicos, el artista dotaba sus composiciones de tal fuerza que un crítico llegó a describirlo como “el más […] vigoroso y viril de nuestros pintores”. A Benton también le interesaba
la cultura del cine de Hollywood, y su torso desnudo en esta obra podría ser una alusión al papel de Douglas Fairbanks Sr. en El ladrón de Bagdad (1924).
Provenance
The artist; stolen from his garage sometime in 1939. Mr. and Mrs. Jack H. Mooney, Montgomery, Alabama; gift 1975 to NPG
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Exhibition
Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today
On View
NPG, West Gallery 240